Riken, others develop ultra-fast coronavirus test

A group of researchers from Japan's Riken research institute, the University of Tokyo, and other institutions say they have developed a test method that detects the coronavirus within five minutes.

Under the new method, specimens are placed on a glass plate with one million indentations per square centimeter.

The indentations, which serve as micro test chambers, are created using microscopic forming technology. Each chamber contains a reagent. When a sample contains the ribonucleic acid, or RNA, of the coronavirus, light is emitted from the chamber.

Unlike the conventional PCR test, the new method does not need to amplify the coronavirus RNA, because even a small amount of the virus can be detected within a micro chamber.
Test results are available within five minutes, instead of the one hour or more needed for a PCR test.

The group says it aims to commercialize the technology within a few years.

Watanabe Rikiya, a chief scientist at Riken, says the method does not involve complex processes. He says if commercialized, the simple, rapid test could be used at medical institutions and for screening virus carriers.