Technion Professor Moran Bercovici and his team are developing a test that could detect the coronavirus in five to 10 minutes. The ability to do so could be crucial to reopening society. Travelers entering an airport, for example, could be tested with a swab at check-in. Their results would be waiting at the gate, giving them the thumbs up or down to board the plane.
Existing tests for COVID-19 work are processed in large, central laboratories and go through a multistep process that takes days to get the results. For the past six years, Prof. Bercovici and his researchers in the Microfluidic Technologies Laboratory at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have been developing lab-on-a-chip technologies. These mini portable labs integrate several analyses usually done in the lab, and reduce reaction times from days to seconds to deliver results at the point of testing.
When the coronavirus crisis started, I had an ‘aha’ moment. Everything we’ve worked on so far is exactly right for tackling this problem.
The only preparation step required in Prof. Bercovici’s coronavirus test would be to insert the swab stick into a vial with chemicals that detect the virus. “When the coronavirus crisis started, I had an ‘aha’ moment. Everything we’ve worked on so far is exactly right for tackling this problem,” he said. “We need rapid diagnostics that can be done anywhere without relying on centralized labs.”