Lightning-Fast Israeli COVID Test Gets European Approval; planned airport deployment

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 Lightning-Fast Israeli COVID Test Gets European Approval;  planned airport deployment


An Israeli company said on Wednesday it had received European approval for its rapid coronavirus test and was ready to help jumpstart international travel.
The portable SpectraLIT machine eliminates the need for complex laboratory equipment by passing light through samples and providing immediate results using spectral signature.

This means that airport cabin staff who are currently responsible for collecting test samples and sending them to laboratories will simply have a machine handy and will be able to give results to passengers after just 20 seconds of driving. analysis.

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The system, which is being tested in 36 hospitals around the world, has received EU Medical Device Directive approval for a swab version of its test, allowing it to begin deployment throughout the European Union.

A technician takes nasal swab samples for COVID-19 at the coronavirus lab, Ben-Gurion International Airport, February 28, 2021 (Yossi Aloni / Flash90)

This represents a regulatory green light for most of the technology used in its flagship product: a gargle test that eliminates the need to scrub and generates results from a mouthwash sample.

“This is an important step for rapid testing,” Eyal Zimlichman, a senior doctor at Sheba Medical Center who helped develop the technology, told The Times of Israel.

“Despite the global rollout of immunization efforts, COVID-19 still needs rapid diagnostic solutions to get back to normal, including international travel, and this represents an important milestone.”

Man wearing a mask for health protection at an airport (TeamDAF via iStock by Getty Images)

Portable antigen tests are becoming more widely available, but authorities are reluctant to deploy them in places like airports due to concerns about accuracy. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, these tests are “less sensitive and less specific than typical molecular tests performed in the laboratory.”

Zimlichman said SpectraLIT consistently achieves relatively high accuracy – 70-80% – and is a big addition to the market because it will be very inexpensive. He said the accuracy of the artificial intelligence system was likely to increase over time.


Left to right: Newsight CEO Eli Assoolin, Sheba Medical Center Professor Eli Schwartz and Newsight co-founder Eyal Yatskan with the testing machine (courtesy Newsight)

Eli Assoolin, who led the development team, said he now expects the swab version and gargle version of his test to be widely deployed, including at airports, in the coming months.

“We believe that the mouthwash test will soon be a widely used solution around the world,” he said, adding that the approval of the swab test is also important because it allows for cheap testing and reliable with minimal equipment.

Instead of relying on chemicals and lab processes to make coronavirus RNA readable by detection devices, like with regular swab tests, the small SpectraLIT machine shines light through the sample and on a special chip to determine if a person is COVID-positive.

Some of the light is absorbed and the rest is picked up by the sensors. The process is known as determining the spectral signature of the sample: matter reflects different light signatures, depending on its composition.

A SpectraLIT test machine (courtesy of Virusight Diagnostic)

The test was developed by the Assoolin Newsight company in collaboration with Sheba Medical Center under the new Virusight Diagnostic.

The company has delayed an airport deployment that was slated for late 2020, following the outbreak of several mutated COVID-19 variants, but Assoolin said the software has now been adjusted to cover all strains and can easily be recalibrated to detect new variants.

He added that the artificial intelligence platform can also be modified to detect other pathogens, which means he believes it is a solution that will be deployed in future health crises.

“Virusight’s artificial intelligence is actually a diagnostic platform for many potential cases of pathogen diagnostics, capable of changing the way the world deals with pandemics,” he said.

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