Manu Prakash of Stanford devises easy, cheap Covid test


Stanford researchers led by an Indian-American professor have devised a Covid-19 test that they say is easy to use and provides results within 30 minutes, according to the Stanford Medicine News Center.

The test will be the focus of a study funded by the Stanford Medicine Catalyst Program.

The team led by Prakash, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering, has invented a low-cost device that can be used at home for detecting the coronavirus in saliva.

It is designed to cost $5 or less, use no electricity and provide fast and accurate results.

The test, according to the report, “involves little more than boiling some water, reading some instructions and spitting into a funnel.”

The test takes no more than 10 minutes to self-administer and is designed to detect the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2 in saliva within 30 minutes, with an accuracy rate similar to that of the clinical tests performed in hospitals. A color display will appear yellow if there’s a coronavirus infection or pink if there’s not. Prakash estimates the kit’s retail cost, if the test is approved, will be as low as $5 — and perhaps closer to $1,” the report added.

Principal investigators of the study are Euan Ashley, MB ChB, DPhil, associate dean in the School of Medicine and professor of cardiovascular medicine, of genetics and of biomedical data science, who co-directs the Catalyst Program; Prakash; and Manisha Desai, PhD, professor of biomedical informatics and of biomedical data science.

The world needs rapid-screening kits now, and at a very large scale,” Prakash was quoted as saying. “If the study is successful, our goal will be to manufacture tens of millions of them per day. We’re already building industrial partnerships to generate that capacity.”