The Czech biotechnology company Bioinova has completed new test kits for COVID-19 that can be used not only for nasopharyngeal but also for mouth or saliva sampling. As a result, tests should be faster, cheaper, and more patient-friendly.
The use of the tests has already been approved by the Czech State Institute for Drug Control.
“The test is called Bi-Cov. The name suggests that it offers two possible ways to use them, firstly for swabs from the nasopharynx but also the oral cavity,” explained Peter Bauer, director of Bioinova.
Some laboratories, for example, in one of Prague’s hospitals, have already started using them.
The test kit consists of a sampling brush and a small test-tube with a clear solution. After the swab, the sampling brush remains in the test-tube, and the kit then goes to the laboratory for a classic PCR test. Isolation of viral RNA begins immediately after the swab. When the laboratory employees open the test-tube, they can immediately proceed to the PCR test.
The Bioinova company does not want to give any details on the contents of the solution, though.
“That solution is our ‘gold’ which we have created. We will have it patented soon,” said Bauer.
The results of a clinical study carried out in cooperation with the hospital in Nový Jičín showed that the solution revealed 30 percent more patients infected with COVID-19 than the classic swab could. According to Bauer, it does not matter whether the sample is taken from the nasopharynx or the mouth. However, for patients, it would mean that in the future they could avoid unpleasant swabs from the nose.
Production of the test kits has begun in Prague and also in Brno. The company plans to send 50,000 sets of them to the market per week.
Title image: A woman undergoes the rapid antigen test for the coronavirus in Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. The voluntary testing that is free of charge has started on Wednesday at hundreds of sites across the country and will last till Jan 15. The Czech Republic has been facing a rise in new coronavirus infections in December. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)