Representational image.

Researchers have been able to detect positive Covid-19 cases using blood samples in about 20 minutes and identify whether someone has contracted the virus.

A research team from Australia developed a simple agglutination assay – an analysis to determine the presence and amount of a substance in the blood – to detect the presence of antibodies raised in response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The study has been published in the journal ACS Sensors.

The researchers at Monash University in Australia were able to identify recent Covid-19 cases using 25 microlitres of plasma from blood samples.

“This simple, rapid, and easily scalable approach has immediate application in SARS-CoV-2 serological testing, and is a useful platform for assay development beyond the Covid-19 pandemic,” said study researcher Banaszak Holl.

The researchers said that positive cases of Covid-19 cause an agglutination or a clustering of red blood cells, which is easily identifiable to the naked eye.

While the current swab/PCR tests are used to identify people who are currently positive with Covid-19, the agglutination assay can determine whether someone had been recently infected once the infection is resolved.

Agglutination tests based on the commonly employed blood typing methods are a viable option since these blood typing tests are employed in hospitals worldwide with high-throughput, fast (10-30 min), and automated in most cases.

According to the researchers, using a simple lab setup, this discovery could see medical practitioners across the world testing up to 200 blood samples an hour.

At some hospitals with high-grade diagnostic machines, more than 700 blood samples could be tested hourly – about 16,800 each day.

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