A quick COVID test that plugs into your phone

Researchers at the University of Lille in France are developing a new portable COVID test that could provide results in just 10 minutes.

The prototype CorDial-1 test is the size of a large USB stick and can be plugged into a smartphone.

Professor Sabine Szunerits explains:

"Somebody has to take a nasal swab of you, you will put the sample directly on the electrode, you can put the telephone on the table, you can have a coffee, some ice cream, even a shower and ten minutes later you come back."

The test works by using tiny antibody particles from the camelids - an animal family which includes llamas, camels, and alpacas.

The nanobodies are grafted onto the surface of an electrode. When they come into contact with the COVID-19 virus ‘spike’ protein, the change in electrical current shows up as a signal on a graph on your phone.

"You start up your mobile phone, a signal will appear, and depending on the height of the signal, you can say if you're COVID positive or negative."

Other quick and portable COVID-19 tests also exist, but some scientists have raised doubts about their reliability.

The CorDial-1 test is yet to be approved for use.

But initial trials show a 90% accuracy rate compared to the trusted PCR tests, which take longer to deliver results and need lab conditions.

The next phase of the project is to run a three-month trial on more than 1,000 people before manufacturing the device.

Video Transcript

- Researchers at the University of Lille in France are developing a new portable COVID test that could provide results in just 10 minutes. The prototype CorDial-1 test is the size of a large USB stick, and can be plugged into a smartphone. Professor Sabine Szunerits explains.

SABINE SZUNERITS: Somebody has to take a nasal swab of you. You will put directly the sample of the electrode. You can put the telephone on the table, you can have a coffee, ice cream. You can have a shower. 10 minutes later you come back.

- The test works by using tiny antibody particles from the camelids, an animal family which includes llamas, camels, and alpacas. The nanobodies are grafted onto the surface of an electrode. When they come into contact with the COVID-19 virus spike protein, the change in electrical current shows up as a signal on a graph on your phone.

SABINE SZUNERITS: Your start your mobile phone and a signal will occur. And depending on the height of the signal, you can say if your COVID positive or negative.

- Other quick and portable COVID-19 tests also exist, but some scientists have raised doubts about their reliability. The CorDial-1 test is yet to be approved for use, but initial trials show a 90% success rate compared to the trusted PCR test, which take longer to deliver results and need lab conditions. The next phase of the project is to run a three month trial on more than 1,000 people before manufacturing the device.