A new single-stage test using a combinatorial pooling method for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, that will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by identifying infected people sooner and at a lower cost, has been developed by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
The test was developed in a collaboration between BGU, Soroka University Medical Center, The Open University of Israel (OUI) and Clalit Health Services in Israel, successfully identified all positive patients and asymptomatic carriers in a single round of testing. BGU’s Prof. Tomer Hertz, of the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics explained that the method used to create this test “is the only process now available to deliver the level of mass testing that countries are currently aiming for in order to control outbreaks.”
While some labs pool samples that combine the RNA from several people as a single sample, they must retest each individual to determine which ones are positive, this new method eliminates the need for the second step.
Prof. Hertz is also the co-founder of Poold Diagnostics, which has been contracted to provide the test at Soroka and at the Clalit HMO central laboratory in Tel Aviv. “We’ve already successfully tested 40,000 samples in Israel during the first two weeks of clinical operation,” says Prof. Hertz.