This is how the low cost COVID test created by a Spaniard with pencil leads works
A Spanish researcher has developed a detection method for COVID with minimal cost and that uses pencil leads to do so. It was done in a laboratory in Philadelphia and the idea is truly amazing.
The pandemic put us all in a difficult situation and has made many governments realize the importance of investing in research. If we have advanced greatly from the initial situation, it has been thanks to the scientific and health sector, but their work has not yet finished. The days pass and the advances do not stop, the last one we have known comes from the hand of a Galician researcher based in Philadelphia.
César de la Fuente jumped onto the international scene at the beginning of the year thanks to a test he developed that was capable of detecting COVID in four minutes. The main novelty of this type of test was its low cost, although the results were also achieved using a mobile phone. This was thanks to an external detector that he developed and that was supported by a receptor chip capable of transforming the chemical union of a protein with the virus into an electrical signal.
Today, César de la Fuente is back in the news and it is thanks to another breakthrough. You have created a new test that is capable of using pencil leads to detect infection. It continues with the same ideal of the first test, since its cost is almost anecdotal: 1.26 euros to change. The best thing about all this is that the reliability of which he speaks is 100% in saliva.
In terms of operation, what has been done is to use pencil leads to create a transducer. A plastic vial has been added to this item to contain the samples and the enzyme ACE2. This enzyme is in charge of working as a recognition element to ensure that viral detection is correctly measured.
Test results are ready in six and a half minutes. The sensitivity, as we have already said, is 100% in saliva samples. In nasopharyngeal / oropharyngeal samples it has a lower sensitivity, 87%. Furthermore, this type of test does not fall prey to false positives as it does not react with other types of viruses. It also has a shelf life of up to five days when stored at 4 degrees Celsius.
This temperature is important, as it is the one that can be found in most household refrigerators. César de la Fuente is creating these types of projects because current rapid tests focus on antigens, which do not have sufficient sensitivity to correctly identify people who do not present symptom. In addition, there is a latent need to create tests that are affordable for both developed and developing countries.
It will be interesting to see how in the future all these techniques and projects are applied to make the pandemic much more controlled. At present, the eye is set on vaccination which, being something important and necessary, it is also necessary to invest in developing detection methods.