If it was anyone else, you’d have to call it a hoax but Jonathan Rothberg has a history of getting things right! Among his numerous ‘bleeding-edge’ accomplishments was the sequencing of the first individual human genome!
Now he’s announced that he’s working on a home test kit that anyone could use to see if they have the coronavirus, COVID-19. He says it will be a kit that’s nearly as easy to use as a pregnancy test. He claims you will have your result in just 30 minutes compared to the current average of three days!
Rothberg has the sort of pedigree that says this isn’t an idle boast. Over the past two decades, he has founded several genetic sequencing companies that introduced breakthrough technologies, making genome sequencing faster and cheaper.
And while he doesn’t appear to be a billionaire, he seems to have a few hundred million up his sleeve having sold one of his companies for $USD375 million!
“I told my team that the Chinese built a hospital in Wuhan in 10 days so we should be able to develop and deploy a true home test for Covid19 coronavirus in that time,” Rothberg said in an email to IEEE Spectrum. “The team is working around the clock to accomplish that goal.”
A simple COVID-19 test…
Theoretically, a person will first use a swab to take a sample of a few cells from the inside of their nose or mouth. Then, following the smartphone app instructions, they’ll dip that swab in a sequence of three tubes. Each of those tubes will hold a readily available chemical causing a reaction to occur.
Just like a litmus test, colour will provide the test result – (say) red if you have the virus, blue if you’re clear.
If the test has malfunctioned, there will be no colour change while if the test is inconclusive, the user can use their phone’s camera to take a photo of the tube, and the app will give them the results and provide more information!
Bring it on!