UW researchers help develop test to detect COVID variants in hours, not weeks

Sep 22, 2021, 7:53 AM | Updated: 7:54 am
washington hospitals, test, variants...
A nurse at a drive up COVID-19 coronavirus testing station, set up by the UW Medical Center, holds a bag containing a swab used to take a sample from the nose of a person in their car. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Researchers with the University of Washington are helping to develop a test that can identify different variants of COVID-19 from samples within two hours, instead of the typical two weeks.

Local health board declares public health crisis over vaccine misinformation

The test uses a simple “dipstick.” When inserted into processed test samples, it can reveal a combination of more than a dozen bands or lines. Each pattern of bands corresponds to a specific variant.

“We can identify more than two dozen mutations on a simple dipstick,” said Dr. Evgeni Sokurenko.

Sokurenko is a microbiology professor with UW School of Medicine. His laboratory, alongside Seattle-based ID Genomics, which Sokurenko founded, is leading the creation of this new method to “fingerprint” all the currently known variants.

Medical personnel can then use a smartphone app to identify which variant they’re looking at. Dr. Sokurenko says the process is simple, but comprehensive.

“It’s a rapid test. We can identify the variant within two hours of the sample being in hand,” he said, adding that “many, many mutations, many, many variants could be identified at the same time.”

The test could even alert scientists to new, emerging variants.

“You actually can understand much faster what variants are emerging. You can detect outbreaks much faster, meaning that you can contain the outbreaks. You can identify the sources, like super spreaders, for example,” Dr. Sokurenko explained.

The process is simple, involves less expensive equipment, and could be distributed to urgent care clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals. Scientists hope the new test will be widely available this winter.

Northshore School District to test K-12 students weekly for COVID

This rapid test is needed, Dr. Sokurenko says, because the delta variant is already mutating.

“From the analysis of just over 100 patient samples, we found already 13 variants, sub-variants, of delta,” he said.

KIRO Radio’s Heather Bosch contributed to this report.

Local News

KIRO 7 News Staff

Police: Two in custody after hit-and-run suspect rams patrol car; officer fires shots

Two people were taken into custody after a driver suspected of a hit-and-run rammed an officer’s patrol vehicle, resulting in the officer firing shots at the car Saturday night in Medina.
10 hours ago
Seattle library...
MyNorthwest Staff

Last of Seattle Public Library branch closures from pandemic comes to an end

Seattle has reopened its NewHolly library branch, meaning that for the first time since the start of the pandemic, all 27 of the city's branches are now up and running.
1 day ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

2 people shot in Seattle; suspect surrenders to police after SWAT negotiation

A suspect surrendered to police Saturday afternoon after two people were shot in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, the Seattle Police Department said.
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

New rules for visitors to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle

Starting Tuesday, visitors to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a negative test within three days of visiting.
1 day ago
seattle police...
Stephanie Klein

Seattle police patrolling lower West Seattle Bridge after reports of covered plates

Seattle police say they are conducting enforcement at the lower West Seattle Bridge after it was discovered that drivers have been obscured their license plates to avoid traffic cameras.
1 day ago
Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, unvaccinated officers, seattle police...
Stephanie Klein

Seattle Police Chief asks officers to submit vaccine paperwork

As the Oct. 18 deadline to prove COVID-19 vaccination or risk losing a job looms, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz sent a heartfelt memo to officers letting them know he doesn't want to lose them.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
UW researchers help develop test to detect COVID variants in hours, not weeks