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Purdue University students creating at-home COVID-19 testing device

Students are in the midst of creating a COVID-19 test that can be taken at home and will identify if you're positive or negative for the virus in a matter of 30 minutes.

Posted: Jul 13, 2020 1:12 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- A new technology out of Purdue University is on track to revolutionize coronavirus testing.

Students are in the midst of creating a COVID-19 test that can identify if you're positive or negative for the virus in a matter of 30 minutes. And, the test is designed to be able to take in the comfort of your home. Right now, testing sites across the United States are experiencing major delays in getting results, CBS News reports.

The total of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. currently sits at more than 3-million according to the CDC. But a device about the size of a one-dollar coin could greatly curb that number.

Dr. Mohit Verma, Assistant Professor with Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center. Dr. Verma is the professor leading this project. He said the test kit will be a paper-based material with an agent that can detect if COVID-19 is in your saliva. After saliva is placed on the device, it's supposed to be heated for about 30 to 45 minutes. Once it's ready, you can tell if you have the virus if the color on the paper has changed. It's designed to be an easy to use and easily disposable product.

"In an ideal scenario, everyone would have a test, they would be able to test on a weekly basis," said Verma. "If you ever test positive, stay at home so that you don't spread the disease, if you test negative then you are fine, so that's kind of what I am envisioning that everyone would have."

Dr. Verma said while the university began shutting down operations a few months ago, his students were still eager to continue working on the device. He said right now they're finding success. 

"What we're hoping for is for testing to not be on limitation anymore, that's one of the things that is preventing us from opening the economy back up, getting back to normal because we keep seeing these spikes, people think they might be healthy but because it's asymptomatic, there is a lot of problem with that," said Verma.

The device is now ready for clinical trials, which will determine how accurate the test is. Dr. Verma said the goal is for it to be at least 90% accurate. After the trials, they will apply to get the device approved by the FDA under its Emergency Use Authorization.

After authorization, which Dr.Verma is expecting to happen by this August, the test will first become available in doctor's offices and pharmacies. Once the devices are made at a mass scale, it'll be available for public purchase and take-home use.

Dr. Verma said the cost of the device will depend on who manufactures it. He confirmed making the device in the lab only costs about $10 per test.

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