As the COVID-19 outbreaks continue to skyrocket with new clusters in numerous dark red areas in many provinces across the country, a research team led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sanchai Payungporn, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, has, therefore, accelerated the development of the innovative COVID-19 screening kits – “COVID-19 SCAN” that are convenient, fast, inexpensive, with efficiency, accuracy close to the Real-time PCR standards mandated by the Ministry of Public Health.
“Those who are worried that they are at risk of COVID-19 infection but would not qualify for a test at the hospital as they do not meet the government’s criteria to warrant a screening may choose the COVID-19 SCAN kits that are comprehensive and fast. The Chulalongkorn research team aims to create these kits as a service for the public to have the easiest access to screening,” said Prof. Dr. Sanchai.
The distinctive characteristics of the innovative COVID-19 SCAN kit are that it is a molecular test similar to Real-time PCR, which can be used for both throat and saliva swab samples. The advantage of using saliva samples is that they are easy to collect and have a high infection detection rate within the first 11 days of symptoms. The collection does not cause irritation compared to nasal swabs, so it can be done as often as needed. The processing time is approximately 90 minutes – 2 hours depending on the sample volume.
The COVID-19 SCAN kits use genomic DNA extraction and propagation process under a single temperature. Then the specific genetic material is detected by the CRISPR-Cas12a system, and if it is positive, it would glow under a blue light transilluminator.
The efficacy of the COVID-19 SCAN in clinical diagnosis is 100% specificity, 96.23% sensitivity, and 98.78% accuracy. It also uses simple tools and less storage space. It is suitable for provincial hospitals and general clinics that do not have expensive Real-time PCR machines, as well as proactive, off-site testing, such as in industrial estates.
The test kits are, however, not yet available for the general public for self-use, as they still need to be administered by expert medical personnel. The cost is approximately 50% lower than the Real-time PCR test.
COVID-19 SCAN kits are suitable for the COVID-19 screening missions, including medical agencies that must regularly screen for infected persons, such as the Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine
Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University that need to screen medical personnel and kidney disease patients before undergoing dialysis. The Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center uses the kits to test HIV-infected volunteers at the HIV-NAT unit after receiving COVID-19 vaccination to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine in patients. The kits have also been used regularly to screen the medical personnel and patients before treatments at such places as San Pa Tong Hospital Dental Work Unit, Chiang Mai Province.
Hospitals, medical agencies, or companies interested to learn more about the “COVID-19 SCAN” kits can visit http://www.covidscan.tech/; or email Micro Injection Company Limited at firstname.lastname@example.org, attention Ms. Somruedee, tel. 092-247-0019 or Ms. Maneerat, tel. 082-299-6333.
By Chulalongkorn University