Reliable, Non-Invasive Sensor Detects COVID-19 Within a Minute

The biosensor detects fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as variants.

Investigators from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) have partnered with the biomedical start-up Soterius and have created a successful prototype of a biosensor which can detect the presence of tiny amounts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants within just 1 minute.

The biosensor, called the Soterius Scout, is reliable, accurate, as well as non-invasive, and could allow people to enter certain buildings if they pass or undertake a medical COVID-19 test and self-isolate if they do not pass.

"Our biosensor is so small it can fit on a personal fob card and it's easy to use - you just need to swipe your card over a reader at checkpoints," Alasdair Wood, co-founder of Soterius said. "Importantly, one sensor can detect up to 8 viral strains and our technology can be easily adapted to detect new variants or novel viruses as they emerge.

The prototype, now that it has shown to be successful, is being further developed with MIP Diagnostics, the Burnet Institute, D+I and Vestech.

The biosensor detects fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with high accuracy, does not give false positives and can even detect the virus if an individual is asymptomatic. It harnesses nanotechnology-enabled biosensors developed by RMIT researchers at its leading-edge Micro Nano Research Facility.

Trials have shown that the biosensor can potentially become a significant diagnostic tool for respiratory illnesses besides COVID-19. It has been scaled to be able to detect other diseases like influenza and MERS.

"COVID-19 is not going away any time soon and we need smart solutions to help us detect the virus and contain outbreaks," Sharath Sriram said, lead investigator on the project said. "It is exciting to see our platform sensor technology at the core of this smart new solution for the management of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in workplaces, to help protect our frontline workers and the wider community."