According to reports, Scientists have developed a novel method for coronavirus testing that swabs your smartphone screen rather than your nose or throat. Compared to regular PCR testing, the Phone Screen Testing (PoST) method is non-invasive, costs less, and is equally accurate.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) analysed samples collected from mobile screens of people using the PoST method. They found that people who tested Covid-19 positive by the regular nasal swab RT-PCR test were also positive when samples were taken from their smartphone screens.
The non-invasive and low-cost Phone Screen Testing (PoST) method can be a boon for middle and low-income countries.
The study was led by Dr Rodrigo Young of University College London. The UCL team carried out the study at Diagnosis Biotech, a Chilean start-up headed by Dr Young.
PoST is an environmental test, rather than a clinical test, and researchers claimed that it was both non-invasive and less expensive than traditional RT-PCR. It includes collecting swabs from the screens of the mobile. Once the samples are collected, they are embedded in a saline water solution. The samples are then tested in the same way as other swabs are subjected to in order to establish the virus presence.
PoST detected the virus on the phones of 81.3% to 100% of contagious people with a high viral load.
A machine is currently under development by Diagnosis Biotech, Dr Young’s start-up. According to the UCL website, the machine will build on this research, taking a phone for PoST sampling, and deliver the results directly via SMS to minimise contact.