Brussels airport pilots ’15 minute’ PCR test

Brussels airport pilots ’15 minute’ PCR test
Credit: Belga

Brussels Airport has announced that it will soon begin a trial of an ultra-fast PCR test able to detect Covid-19 in 15 minutes, a far faster turnaround than the three-hour tests currently in use.

From 18 October, passengers who use the test centre at Brussels Airport will be given the option to use the new test in addition to the regular one. They will receive a gift voucher as a thank you for participating in the testing pilot.

The tests have been developed by Flemish company miDiagnostics and use a nasal swab. What makes them different to the tests currently in use is an integrated microchip that produces the temperatures necessary for DNA replication 20 times faster than the present PCR tests.

“This ultra-fast result is possible through miniaturization of the process, with a silicon chip, developed at imec, at the heart of this technology. The temperature cycling needed for DNA replication can be performed 20 times faster than a classical PCR, hence significantly shorten the PCR measurement time,” the company explained in a press release.

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The technology was developed with the financial support of Flemish minister of Innovation Hilde Crevits and underwent clinical tests at the University Hospital and University of Leuven (KU Leuven), with clinical tests reporting fast and reliable results.

“With the new rapid tests, we are also making history in testing Covid-19. The development of these tests is of great importance for public health. In this way we will be able to manage this pandemic even better and increase comfort for people who need to be tested,” Crevits said on the news.

The test centre at Brussels Airport receives an average of 1500 passengers per day – both those arriving in Belgium and those departing. Since its opening in September 2020, over half a million people have been tested. Should the results of the pilot trial be positive, it is hoped that the new tests will be available at some point in the first three months of 2022.

Should the results of the pilot trial be positive, it is hoped that the new tests will be available at some point in the first three months of 2022.


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