Germany technology giant Bosch has developed a tool that can test for Covid-19 in “under 2.5 hours.”
Bosch said on Thursday (26 March) that the fully-automated diagnostic device can simultaneously diagnose 10 respiratory pathogens and has an accuracy level of over 95%. It works by taking a swab from the patient’s nose or throat, and then putting the cartridge, which contains all reagents for the test, into the device.
It can be administered on the spot in doctors’ practices and hospitals, without the need to send samples to labs, which would go a long way to easing the burdens on testing facilities. It also means a huge reduction in wait times for patients, allowing those who have contracted the virus to be isolated more quickly before they infect others.
“Time is of the essence in the fight against coronavirus. Reliable, rapid diagnosis directly on site with no back and forth – that is the great advantage of our solution,” Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said in a statement.
The device was developed together with Northern Ireland-based Randox Laboratories in just six weeks. It should be available from April in Germany and then in other countries. Bosch said it meets World Health Organisation standards.
As of Friday morning, Germany has had 47,278 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 281 deaths. Its death toll is dramatically lower than countries such as Spain and Italy, which have now reported 4,365 and 8,215 respectively. According to Christian Drosten, head of the virology department at at Berlin’s Charité hospital, the relatively low number of deaths is down to extensive testing and thus speedy detection of the virus.
Now, according to a government paper seen by Der Spiegel (link in German) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany will look to boost its testing capabilities even further to some 200,000 tests per day, even testing people who just suspect they have the virus, and all the contacts of people who have it. Right now, only people who show symptoms are tested.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday evening that it is much to soon to think about relaxing the country’s strict lock-down rules, which have been in place for a week now. She asked Germans to be patient until the isolation measures began to show results.
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