Current at-home testing options for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been important in controlling infection as society moves toward getting back to a new normal and living with the virus as safely as possible.
Options on the market today include rapid tests which detect a current infection in a few minutes, though the results usually need to be confirmed with a more accurate PCR test, or PCR home collection kits, where a sample is collected at home and then sent to a laboratory for PCR testing, with results available within a few days. However, there are currently no widely-available, at-home, over-the-counter options to detect antibodies to determine if someone was previously infected with COVID-19 and if they were, what their level of immunity is and how long it will last. However, a new study suggests that at-home testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using widely available glucometers could be possible using a new method, removing the need for advanced equipment and specialized staff.
In the research, published June 8 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, scientists showed in blind clinical training sets that, with their method, they were able to detect SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies in patient serum “with precise agreement to benchmark commercial immunoassays.” In a nutshell, the new method works by causing a chemical reaction if SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are present in a person’s blood to produce glucose, which is then detected by the glucometer. They add their method could also be used for a variety of other biomedical applications and could be modified to be used with other sample types such as saliva or nasopharyngeal swabs.
If the researchers’ method can be successfully commercialized, it could be an important tool for monitoring immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the population scale in order to make better decisions regarding public health, as well as for determining the efficacy of vaccines. The research team says they are currently working on simplifying their test so that the various elements can be “integrated into a portable, user-friendly, point-of-need detection platform.”