China develops COVID-19 detection kit that delivers results in 15 minutes
Updated 12:48, 15-Feb-2020
Cao Qingqing
Test results of a patient's blood with the new detection kit for COVID-19. /CCTV Photo

Test results of a patient's blood with the new detection kit for COVID-19. /CCTV Photo

A new detection kit for the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) has been developed. It can give a result in 15 minutes through the test of just one drop of the patient's blood, China's State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Diseases revealed on Friday. 

The detection kit, which has passed preliminary lab and clinical evaluations, is the outcome of several research institutions' teamwork under the guidance of Zhong Nanshan, head of the expert panel set up by the National Health Commission (NHC) to fight against the coronavirus. 

It can detect IgM antibodies, which are the first antibodies made by the body to fight a new infection, through the test of a drop of blood. The result can be delivered within 15 minutes, even when a patient's plasma is diluted 500 to 1,000 times, the lab explained.  

Compared with the current RT-PCR nuclei acid tests used for diagnosis, the new test kit is simpler and more efficient, with higher sensitivity and specificity.  

It can effectively break the limitations of existing detection methods on personnel and places, and shorten the test time, thus achieving a rapid diagnosis of suspected cases and screening of confirmed patients close contacts. 

The detection kit has been used for tests in a hospital in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the epidemic. Some clinically diagnosed patients whose nuclei acid tests showed negative for the virus have been retested with the new kit, and most of the results showed positive for lgM antibodies. 

Read more:  Coronavirus: What are 'clinically diagnosed cases,' and what's behind the surge in Hubei? 

Meanwhile, in the detection test of more than 600 clinical samples taken from Hubei and Guangzhou, the positive rate of lgM antibodies are highly in line with clinical diagnosis results. 

So far, many detection kits (for scientific research) have been sent to cities in Hubei, which will be jointly used with other detection methods, such as nuclei acid tests, the lab said.