coronavirus testing

Labs Racing to Find More Efficient Covid Tests

NBC Universal, Inc.

As COVID-19 cases climb around the country, there is a race – not only for more tests, but for ones that are more comfortable.

A company in Finland is developing one that works like a breathalyzer with results that come back in just two minutes. Prototypes have been sent out around the world, including in the Bay Area, to provide more data.

"We can provide almost real-time solutions because our turnaround time is just two minutes," said Pekka Rissanen, managing director at Deep Sensing Algorithms.

Nano sensors inside the breathalyzer detect different gases that people’s lungs produce. The company says that it identifies the virus, like an instant blood test.

Over the next month the company hopes to confirm the gasses and their levels that correspond to COVID patients, even if they're asymptomatic.

“There is not enough testing capacity to test the mass population in a short timeframe,” said Rissanen. “We are opening up that bottleneck.”

The company is now running trials for the next month to provide more data.

Also, around the Bay Area, multiple labs and startups are working to increase efficiency in testing.

Renegade.bio was founded in the pandemic the day after the region's shelter at home order went into effect.

"This is why I got into science, to be able to help people and to be able to support the communities that support each other," said Craig Rouskey, founder and CEO of renegade.bio.

The San Francisco-based company has labs in Oakland. It held testing drives for underserved communities. It's also contracting with companies to test employees returning to work. The results come back in 12 to 24 hours.

It's doing 5,000 tests a day in the Bay Area and in New York.

"If people can have access to testing and receive tests in a controlled way, then we can really stop the spread of this virus quickly," Rouskey said.

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