This exclusive article, written by Robyn Riley, is from the 22/02/23 print issue of the Herald Sun newspaper:
A SIMPLE, quick and cheap Covid test that does not require a nasal swab may soon be available in vulnerable settings such as aged care facilities, hospitals and schools following a successful medical trial in Melbourne.
In a first, a pilot of the new test, called LAMP, was carried out with more than 800 asymptomatic staff at two Melbourne aged care facilities. It found four staff who had tested negative on a rapid antigen test (RAT) before their shift started were, in fact, positive. Both facilities also reported minimal staff cases of Covid-19 during the trial period.
LAMP is short for loop-mediated isothermal amplification, and the test uses a light beam to screen and detect pathogens, which are organisms that cause disease. This is done using an Australian-discovery called a Sentinel instrument, which can process more than 90,000 tests a day in under 40 minutes.
Following a quick and gentle swab of the mouth, a sample is placed into a vial containing fluid that goes into the Sentinel where the instrument uses a light beam to detect viruses such as Covid-19.
Toby Hall, the executive chair of Victorian company MEDiSwab, said the biggest advantage of the new test was that it was minimally invasive, cost around 10 per cent of a PCR and could deliver the results quickly. He said the test would be a game-changer.
“The beauty of this, if it goes into full trial and it is as good as PCR testing, if we did have another Covid outbreak we would be able to get results much faster,” Mr Hall said.
“It is imperative to be ready for future pandemics.”
Mr Hall said for schools the test would mean students and staff could all be tested quickly when there was an outbreak, with accurate results the same day limiting disruptions.
“You put the swab in your mouth, leave it for a few seconds, nothing going up your nose; it is a much nicer solution,” he said.