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Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) scientist Professor Newton Howard and his teams are working on the implementation of a COVID-19 saliva test.

Professor HowardHoward Brain Sciences Foundation researchers and ni2o inc (Neuron Input to Output) are working together to develop a COVID-19 testing kit that uses saliva and produces results in five minutes.

This will be the fastest test available, as well as cheap and easy to use, as it does not require any skilled personnel or lab equipment. As it can be self-administered at home without a lab technician, it will be easy to use in airports, schools, and other critical settings. 

The biggest impacts of the test are the turnaround time and the affordability. People can receive fast results in high-risk environments, and people who are economically disadvantaged would no longer have to take risks because they can’t afford testing. The test may also be usable on surfaces and air, and may be able to differentiate between the two currently identified strains of COVID-19.

Ni2o is a spinout of Oxford University that designs brain-computer interfaces for the treatment of neurodegenerative brain diseases and disorders. It was formed by a global group of entrepreneurs, researchers, and scientists, in which Professor Howard is the founder. Due to the extreme nature of the pandemic, ni2o decided to direct their resources to combat COVID-19.

Ni2o is using a lab on a chip approach in combination with chromatography. Saliva will be placed in the chip and the device will give a positive or negative indicator within five minutes if COVID-19 is present in the sample. This will be the first time researchers utilize samples of saliva for testing the COVID-19 virus. The lab on a chip technology will provide reusable capability, allowing for multiple testing opportunities from one device. This feature will support affordable mass testing. This is an alternative testing method from the widely used testing of blood samples, as well as a continuation of work that was planned for future implant devices and was accelerated in response to the COVID-19 threat.

This new test would make a large impact on the ease and availability of testing. As the test is low cost and easy to administer, testing no longer has to be focused on the most severe cases and can also be administered to large swaths of potentially asymptomatic carriers who feel but go untested. Ni2o currently estimates 30-days of development before their short term testing kit will be available. Ni2o proposes the test would slow the spread of COVID-19 as people can make appropriate treatment and quarantine decisions with comprehensive information.

For further information you can reach ni2o at info@ni2o.com.