UMass Chemists Race to Develop Fast-Acting, at-Home Coronavirus Test

It's “like a pregnancy test, but for viral infection.”

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A color-changing test swab that would turn pink in minutes if a person tests positive for the coronavirus could be available next year.

Three University of Massachusetts Amherst chemists -- Sankaran “Thai” Thayumanavan, Jeanne Hardy and Trisha L. Andrew -- received a $198,000 federal grant to develop the technology over the next year from the National Science Foundation.

Andrew described it as, “Like a pregnancy test, but for viral infection.”

The researchers are seeking “a cheap test that will tell if you should get checked by medical professionals because you are probably infected,” Thayumanavan said.

The at-home test is still in development stages and needs to go through clinical testing.

Because of the urgency of the situation, the team is seeking permission to conduct necessary experiments in their labs on campus, according to Thayumanavan. He said they will work on a reduced scale with minimal staff, less than 20 percent of normal levels.

The test could ultimately be used to check for a variety of viral infections, according to the researchers, and could potentially be available for patient use next year.

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