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India and Israel are jointly developing a game-changer rapid COVID-19 testing kit which will give results in less than a minute by simply requiring an individual to blow into a tube, the Israeli envoy to India said on Friday. The work on the rapid COVID-19 testing project is in a very advanced stage and is likely to be rolled out in “a matter of days”, said Ambassador Ron Malka. 

The coronavirus testing kit will be very cheap as it gives the result locally without the logistical baggage of sending the sample to laboratories, the envoy said. 

“I think it is a matter of days. What I hear from those involved in the process, it should not take more than 2-3 weeks to finalise that one reliable and accurate technology or a combination of more than one from amongst the four different technologies being analysed,” Malka told news agency PTI. 

He said that Israel would want India to become the manufacturing hub for COVID-19 rapid testing kit and experts from the two countries will also join hands for vaccine development. With its mass production capabilities, India is taking a lead role in rapid testing kit production. 

Israel has sent a high level research delegation to India to conduct a series of “final stages of testing” as part of the joint effort to develop the rapid testing kits for COVID-19. The researchers from both the countries have conducted trials on a large number of samples in India for four different kinds of technologies that have capabilities to detect coronavirus rapidly. 

The four tech systems that have now gone through different stages are – voice test, breathalyser test based on terra-hertz waves, isothermal test, and polyamino acids test. 

“I am optimistic as all threshold conditions have already been passed,” he said. 

Malka said this new rapid test is “a shining example of how fruitful collaboration in science and technology between Israel and India can be.” 

“It will be good news for the entire world. Until we manage to immunise the entire population, this joint operation, which we had named ‘open skies’, would literally open the skies in terms of international travel and other economic activities as this can be used at airports and other places by requiring a person just to blow into a tube and the result would be available in 30-40-50 seconds,” he said.

Last month a consortium led by British company iAbra, which specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) reportedly developed a 20-second COVID-19 test that uses cameras and microscopes to determine if someone has the virus. It has been described as “ground-breaking”, but experts say it is not a replacement for current tests.

It has been tested at Heathrow Airport, and now Australian company KeyOptions has secured the rights to bring the test to Australia .

 KeyOptions chief revenue officer Gavin Milton-White said: “The test took a saliva sample and ran it through a machine powered by AI software to see the virus cells.”

“Using a holographic microscope it is able to physically see into the cell structure of the sample,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“A series of cameras and microscopes are able to go down to a nano-sized analysis of the cell structure. COVID-19 cells have a very specific signature and they can be identified.”

Mr Milton-White said Bristol University scientists found the test had a 99.8 per cent accuracy rate , but experts say they would like to see more local validation data, compared to the current “gold standard”.

Business Today/ Ya Libnan

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