U of U professor creates COVID-19 test that can return results in a minute

Jan 12, 2021, 9:03 AM
University of Utah...
University of Utah

A University of Utah professor has developed a portable, rapid COVID-19 test that returns results even faster than the others on the market.

It gives a result in about a minute.

A sensor checks for the spike proteins in the COVID-19 virus. You can breathe on the sensor or deposit a drop of saliva.

“We measure that event using a microprocessor onboard and provide a signal [sic]. A red lights turns on if there is the virus, and if there isn’t any virus, it remains green,” said U of U electrical and computer engineering professor Massood Tabib-Azar.

The device is small; about the size of a car key fob. It connects to a smartphone app.

Tabib-Azar says the false positivity and negativity result rates for their COVID test are at about 5 percent, which is low, but they want to get those even better.

“We want to make sure we don’t miss anybody who might have the infection. That’s the key purpose of the sensor. If someone has it, we want to make sure we detect it,” he said.

The invention was a top ten finalist in the XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing competition. It has a huge potential market for commercial, health, business and personal use.

The U is now looking at how to get it into the market.

“Given the recent events of all these mutations in the virus, and unfortunately the fact that we are continuing to deal with this virus, I think the market is very large,” said Tabib-Azar.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


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U of U professor creates COVID-19 test that can return results in a minute