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Dr Natalia Salazar-Quiroz, formerly from the Doherty Institute and a co-author of the paper that outlines a proof of concept for a new, fast, portable saliva screening test. (Credit: Prof. Bayden Wood)

A proof of concept for a new, fast, portable saliva screening test uses an infrared light technology to confirm infection with SARS-CoV-2. A portable infrared spectrometer was modified to enable high throughput screening, enabling samples to be rapidly scanned in a contactless mode without having to clean the instrument between measurements.

Resarchers estimate that this technique could be capable of screening 5000 samples per day per instrument, with results for each sample being ready in five minutes.

A similar infrared technique known as attenuated total reflectance (ATR) spectroscopy has previously been used by the researchers to detect malaria and hepatitis. The new transflection infrared based approach offers triple the absorbance and hence interrogates more saliva to detect pathogens compared to the traditional ATR technology. The speed and versatility of the technique potentiates its use for point-of-care screening at airports, sporting venues, universities or schools, to triage patients for RT-PCR testing.

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