Researchers at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in the US have developed a saliva-based test to detect the Covid-19 virus.

The non-invasive test is expected to be soon put into use across URI campuses as a screening and surveillance tool for the detection of Covid-19.

Led by URI Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences professor Angela Slitt, the research team uses branched DNA assay technology, which is more commonly available in labs across the US.

It said that the new Covid-19 test is sensitive, specific and can deliver results at a lower cost.

Slitt said: “One of the things we set out to do was to develop a less invasive, more cost-effective, more accessible test and I think we’ve done that.

“We use saliva, work off different supply chains, use different, less cost-prohibitive instrumentation and are effectively lowering the barriers to entry for many.”

Together with the Rhode Island Department of Health, the team has already validated the new test using the standard reference materials and specimens.

In partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific, the team will validate the test and provide the necessary supply chain for distribution.

It is also set to launch a clinical trial this week for an emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The trial will be conducted in collaboration with URI Athletics and URI Health Services and will screen athlete students and others who agree to take part to collect data for the application for the FDA.

Additionally, URI has established a lab on its Kingston Campus for the clinical trial of the new assay.