Faster Swedish test for COVID-19

The new test developed by researchers at the Karolinska Institute can give an answer within two and a half hours. 

  • Björn Reinius, principal investigator of the study, center, with co-first authors Ioanna Smyrlaki (right) and Anders Ekman (left). Photo: Stefan Zimmerman
  • Swedish researchers have developed a faster test to identify who may be infected with the coronavirus. The test can give an answer within two and a half hours.

  • "Because the method is both simpler and cheaper, you could set up COVID-19 tests under much simpler conditions and in situations with limited resources but a pressing need to test," says research leader at the Karolinska Institutet Björn Reinius in a release. Another possible use could be for cheap periodic testing of asymptomatic people to eliminate the spread of infection. The test is not dependent on expensive so-called reagent kits, which quickly became a scarce commodity in the spring.

  • The reliability of the test method has been evaluated and compared with around 600 samples taken through traditional diagnostics. “In that comparison, the agreement between ours and that method was 98 percent, if you combine positive and negative results,” Reinius said in an interview on Swedish radio. “The work to develop a readily available testing method started as soon as we saw the developments in Asia and southern Europe, and before the situation reached crisis point in Sweden,” according to Reinius. The test has been reviewed and published in the journal Nature Communications.