New 'hypersensitive' rapid test can tell if you have Covid or flu in 15 minutes
18th May 2021

A NEW "hypersensitive" rapid test can detect if you have coronavirus or flu in just 15 minutes, experts claim.

The test uses a fluorescent light to search for antigens that belong to Covid-19.

🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates

Antigens are little proteins on the surface of a virus molecule and the new tests have been compared to the PCR tests which are currently the gold standard when it comes to detecting Covid-19.

In the UK you can get a PCR test if you have the common coronavirus symptoms such as a new persistent cough, a high temperature and a loss of taste and smell – the results for these tests come back within around 48 hours.

You can also get a rapid flow test – with the results from this being ready in 30 minutes, but experts have previously warned that these tests are not as accurate as the PCR kits.

Under a government initiative everyone has access to these tests and you can get them posted to your home address or go to a test site.

Now experts in Santa Cruz in the US say a new test could rule out infection of both Covid-19 and the flu in just 15 minutes.

The experts say that the technology could also be adapted for other illnesses.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic cases of the flu have also gone down and experts have previously said that this could be down to increased hand hygiene measures and mask wearing.

The PCR tests look for specific genetic material which matches coronavirus whereas antigen tests look for protein on the surface of the virus.

The test from the University of Santa Cruz experts starts with a nose swab which is then examined with a fluorescent light.

The probe will then light up if it detects a specific virus.

In order to develop the tests the experts created a new molecule which was coded to look for both Covid antigens and those that are present when someone has the flu.

No extra equipment is needed as the molecule will shine bright enough so that someone administering the test can see.


The researches have called the test “ultra sensitive” and claim that their test can identify flu and Covid proteins with a higher degree of accuracy than other similar tests.

It has colour markers so that experts are able to tell whether or not a patient has flu or coronavirus.

If a patient has Covid a red light will show, and if they have the flu a green light will be displayed.

The fact that the test can distinguish between the two viruses would be helpful during flu season as both illnesses share similar symptoms.

Speaking to, senior author of the study Holger Schmidt said: “This test could certainly be used in a central lab and provide high sensitivity and highly reliable antigen tests.”

He added that administering the tests over the counter in a pharmacy could be a possibility.

The experts had previously been developing this specific technology in order to detect the Zika virus.

Writing in the study Schmidt added: “Once we were allowed to come back to the lab for essential research, my students started coming in to work in the lab by themselves on a coronavirus test.

“It was a heroic effort by my students to develop these tests from scratch. First we were shut down by the pandemic, and then the wildfires hit and we had to evacuate our samples to Stanford and shut down again. But they kept going.”

Over time the team hopes that the tests will be modified to look for more than just two illnesses and could even be improved to deliver faster results.

    Source: Read Full Article