HAIFA (VINnews) — A Technion-based group of researchers in conjunction with Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center claim to have come up with a faster and more efficient way to test people for the coronavirus, by pooling samples instead of doing individual tests.
At present the testing procedure known as PCR involves taking samples from people and using a laborious process to determine if they are carriers of the virus. The present system which allows for some 1200 tests per day does not allow for testing asymptotic people who are not displaying symptoms but may still be carriers who are infecting others.
According to Professor Roi Kishoni, the head of the research group at the Technion’s Faculty of Biology, there is now a possibility of pooling the samples of 32 or 64 patients at a time, which can quickly rule out who has the virus. Only in cases where the virus is found will the individuals in the pool take tests to determine who is carrying COVID-19.
Researcher say in a statement that the method was able to flag a sample in which there was one carrier out of 64. This would dramatically increase the number of daily tests and pick up some of the silent carriers.
“There are indeed some logistic difficulties in implementing the method, but we hope it can raise the number of tests and find even silent carriers, those with no symptoms. This possibility can lower the chance of infection and flatten the curve,” says Professor Kishon.