The United Arab Emirates has developed a rapid laser technology to detect the coronavirus as soon as it enters the blood cells, official WAM news agency reported on Tuesday.
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The new equipment, developed by QuantLase Imaging Lab, can provide faster mass screenings and results may be available within seconds, according to the news agency. This will help the country expands its mass testing capacity.
The researchers working on the new technology have been studying the change in cell structure of the virus-infected blood, WAM reports. In its early stages so far, the device can detect blood cells as soon as they get infected, according to a lead researcher.
“Our laser-based DPI (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) technique, based on optical-phase modulation, is able to give a signature of infection within a few seconds,” Dr. Pramod Kumar, who leads the team of researchers, is quoted by WAM as saying. “What’s more, it is user-friendly, non-invasive and low-cost.”
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The developers said the testing device can be used in both hospitals and in public places such as shopping malls and cinemas.
“With a ‘little hands-on training’ it can be used for in-house testing and monitoring,” Kumar added. “We believe it will be a game-changer in tackling the spread of the coronavirus.”
The researches have reportedly used the first 1,000 tests conducted to refine the experiment, then they applied it to the rest of the trials, according to the lead doctor.
“The process passed through several stages, and most recently was being trialed on a large scale, in line with current testing procedures,” Kumar is quoted by WAM as saying.
The developeres hope to be able to have the device available in the market within a few months, according to WAM.
Minister of Health and Prevention Abdul Rahman al-Owais said the UAE is always “following innovations related to the early and rapid detection of COVID-19”
“Health officials have been closely monitoring the progress of trials with QuantLase in order to test this equipment,” WAM quoted the minister as saying. “We are proud to see a technology that works and that will help to protect our people better.”
Earlier this month, a UAE research institute developed a coronavirus treatment using stem cells that regenerates lung cells and prevents the immune system from overreacting.
The health ministry has so far confirmed 25,063 cases with 10,791 recoveries so far. The country has maintained a relatively low death toll with 227 total fatalities.