UCSF develops rapid COVID-19 test, yields results in as little as 30 minutes

Bay Area researchers have developed a new rapid test for COVID-19, an important step in combating the pandemic.

The test, developed by University of California at San Francisco researchers, is aimed at helping medical experts know who is infected and who isn't.

"We're talking about millions and millions of tests," said Dr. Fenyong Liu, a UC Berkeley Infectious Diseases Professor. "So, it's very important that we should develop a very convenient as well as rapid test."

The test is called SARS-coV-2-DETECTR and it uses gene-targeting technology. Medical experts say it's a pinprick test, that can yield results in about 30 to 40 minutes. Much like other diagnostic tests available, samples are obtained through respiratory swabs. 

Researchers say it is easy to implement and to interpret, and requires no specialized equipment. All of which could make the test more widely available than the current crop of COVID-19 test kits.

The new test has yet to receive formal approval for clinical use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. UCSF researchers are trying to fast-track the approval process through a so-called emergency use authorization.

Infectious disease specialist say this test takes a novel approach, and having different kinds of tests will be important going forward.

"To adjust the containment we need to figure our who had the virus, and who does not have the virus," said Dr. Liu.

A UCSF doctor has also tweeted that the hospital will be conducting COVID-19 test on all hospitalized patients starting Monday April 20 and that it could go a long way toward easing concerns among patients and staff that it's safe to be in the hospital.