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Comprehensive Study of COVID-19 Detection Tools and Technologies to Help Develop Low-Cost Device for Use by Anyone, Anywhere

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 17 Jun 2021
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Image: Comprehensive Study of COVID-19 Detection Tools and Technologies to Help Develop Low-Cost Device for Use by Anyone, Anywhere (Photo courtesy of Prasesh Shiwakoti)
Image: Comprehensive Study of COVID-19 Detection Tools and Technologies to Help Develop Low-Cost Device for Use by Anyone, Anywhere (Photo courtesy of Prasesh Shiwakoti)
A team of researchers has sifted through hundreds of research papers for determining the COVID-19 detection tools and technologies that best detect the virus in order to help develop a low-cost device for use by anyone, anywhere.

A team of researchers led by engineers at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) have combed the growing pile of literature on COVID-19 tools and techniques. Clinical research on COVID-19 has boomed in the 18 months since the disease first appeared. Countless papers have looked at the topic from almost every possible angle, including methods of detection. The team wanted to categorize and understand what exists, what is lacking and what can be improved. The result was a thorough assessment of the field citing almost 600 separate papers that cover an extensive body of literature. The researchers believe that their new paper published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews provides a rich “one-stop shop” resource for people interested in the topic, including experts in clinical microbiology and non-experts who want to know more about different methods.

The researchers point out that the explosion of detection techniques and tools - some of questionable quality - came from the need to expand testing rapidly while supply chains were disrupted by the virus’s global spread. Some techniques are more accurate; others are more affordable. Some require sophisticated lab equipment; others do not. The World Health Organization’s internationally recognized ASSURED criteria for point-of-care diagnostic devices helped them assess the various tests being used. The acronym stands for affordable, sensitive, specific, user-friendly, rapid and robust, equipment-free and deliverable to end users. This helped the researchers determine the strengths and weaknesses of the existing diagnostic tools.

According to the researchers, the most effective tools in use now are nucleic acid amplification tests, which are highly effective at detecting ribonucleic acid (RNA). The researchers hope that identifying current weaknesses in our diagnostic tools will help avoid the need of adopting drastic measures like lockdowns and shuttering the economy when the next pandemic emerges.

“Our study looks at these technologies’ performance characteristics, their challenges and the gaps in our current knowledge and future directions,” said the study’s primary investigator and lead author Hamid Tali, a PhD student in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. “We describe the lessons learned throughout the pandemic on the diagnostics of this virus, which will be helpful in the case of a future pandemic. We hope that this will help guide researchers toward an ideal device that can be used by anyone, anywhere at a very low cost.”

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