A NEW saliva Covid test could see Brits check themselves quickly and reliably at home.
It would bring the “gold standard” PCR swab accuracy without the horror of sticking anything up your nose.
The test, developed by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, could give the all clear or tell someone to isolate in just two hours if approved.
Chenqu Suo, joint first author of the study, said: “Using saliva as an input, and an isothermal reaction to amplify viral RNA, has the advantage of simplifying the Covid-19 testing process considerably, while maintaining ‘gold standard’ accuracy.
“Firstly, this raises the possibility of scaling up centralised testing in laboratories.
“Secondly, it means a cheap, portable device for use in the home could become a reality in future.”
As well as stopping the risk of home testing errors, the new kit would add all results to a huge sequencing-based database.
When anyone completes a test, a DNA barcode will be added to any ribonucleic acid in the saliva – which means it can be identified later.
Labs could then process tens of thousands of samples at the same time, instead of the current PCR system of batches of 383 samples.
Dr Andrew Bassett, senior author of the study and Head of Cellular Operations Research at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “For population level testing to work, we need tests that are reliable, cost-effective and easy to administer to millions of people on a regular basis.
“Our ambition is for this testing strategy to be accessible to all.
“The findings will need to be validated using patient samples, but our results are already very promising.”
Currently the NHS offers the most accurate test for Covid-19 – the PCR test, which is used globally to swab someone with symptoms.
The swab can be taken at a drive-through centre or at home.
It is sent to a laboratory where a lab technician looks for genetic material of the virus using highly specialised equipment.
But only people with symptoms can take book in to these tests.