New Technology In Testing; Covid-19 Diagnosis Using Smartphone Screen

Without having a test done, we cannot find out whether the patient is positive or not for Covid-19. Testing is the main strategy to find and fight the deadly virus i.e. Covid-19. With digitalization at its peak and everything from school classes to grocery shopping getting a place on online platforms, the latest we hear is about testing for Covid going all digital. Yes, you heard it right. According to new technology, the healthcare sector will see a major boost in testing as Covid-19 tests will now be performed using the screens of smartphones.

The method discovered by Scientists is known as Phone Screen Testing (PoST). This procedure is quite useful for people with low income and can become a life savior for middle and poor-income countries.

According to the research from University College London (UCL), the PoST method has been used by collecting samples from the mobile screens of people. As a result, the people who tested Covid-19 positive by the regular nasal swab RT-PCR test were also found positive with the test taken by the PoST method.

As per the research printed in the Journal e-Life, in the coming years, the PoST method could be extremely helpful to contain Covid-19 outbreaks and identification of variants. This comes as a relief because constant care is required to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

PoST is a method by which we can get our Covid-19 test done without visiting any clinic for the test by simply using our smartphone. It is actually an environmental test. The researchers think that it is both non-invasive and less expensive than traditional RT-PCR. The test includes swabs from the screens of your mobile phone. Once the samples are collected, they’ll be embedded in a saline water solution. The samples are then tested in the same way as other swabs are subjected to in order to establish the virus presence.

A study on 540 individuals was conducted by the researchers at University College London. They were subjected to both PoST and PCR testing. Led by Dr. Rodrigo Young, the study has detected the virus on the phones of 81.3% to 100% of contagious people with a high viral load.

The researchers in the paper added, “We successfully identified variations associated with SARS-CoV-2 Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants in positive PoST samples. It is a new non-invasive, cost-effective, and easy to implement smartphone-based smart alternative for SARS-CoV-2 testing.”

Currently, the Real-Time Reverse transcription-polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test, is the main form of testing while PoST is under testing for implementation. In RT-PCR, the nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in upper and lower respiratory specimens is detected.

During the test, a small amount of DNA is extracted through a swab to diagnose the presence of the virus. The swab can be taken either through the nose (nasal) or through the throat (oral). However, the test is used only for detecting the presence of the virus and it cannot tell if the person has recovered from Covid-19 or not. Also, some results have proven to be inaccurate using this test, which puts it under a discussion for its efficacy.

A Chilean startup, Diagnosis Biotech is developing a machine also for taking samples safely.

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