Emirates

How it works: Faster, cheaper COVID-test using laser in Abu Dhabi

How it works: Faster, cheaper COVID-test using laser in Abu Dhabi
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OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK: The UAE now offers drive-through laser-based COVID-19 test at seven facilities. The test centres are operated by Abu Dhabi’s public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha). The centres offer testing for COVID-19 using a laser-based technology developed in Abu Dhabi. The UAE was also the first country in the Middle East to introduce drive-through test facilities using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology in March. Image Credit:
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ALTERNATIVE TO PCR:The technique, known as Diffractive Phase Interferometry (DPI), looks for specific inflammation markers caused by COVID-19 infection in a sample. For years, researchers had been developing a laser-based reader to detect bacteria and even cancer. Now, in Abu Dhabi, an ultra-sensitive light-based sensor had been “repurposed” to detect coronavirus. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
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GAME-CHANGER TEST: It is different from PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antibody tests. The laser testing technology is highly accurate, according to its proponents. DPI is considered advanced and reliable enough to help in a mass screening drive. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
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Abu Dhabi’s laser-based test gives results within minutes and is now being used to speed up COVID-19 diagnosis at special testinng tents in dfferent areas of Abu Dhabi as well as in Ghantoot, the border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
RESULTS WITHIN MINUTES: Abu Dhabi’s laser-based test gives results within minutes and is now being used to speed up COVID-19 diagnosis at special testing tents in different areas of the emirate. Using what is called "nanophotonic biosensors", based on a specialised complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS), it detects virus antigens (molecules that trigger immune reaction) using miniaturised chips. Image Credit: WAM
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ADVANTAGE: A resident gets the 5-minute DPI test done at the Ghantoot Rapid testing facility on Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. DPI presents a number of advantages compared to traditional antibody test, which tend to kick up high rates of "false negatives". Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
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NANOSENSOR: The nanosensor can detect robinucleic acid (RNA) strands that identify SARS-CoV-2. Specifically, the test detects changes in the cellular structure when infected by the virus, explained Dr. Pramod Kumar, who leads the research team. Therefore, it detects COVID-19 in humans as soon as it is present in the body. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
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BORDER TEST: A paramedic staff at a screening centre in Ghantoot on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai border. While the PCR test is highly accurate, but takes hours or days to process samples. DPI, on the other hand, gives results in minutes. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
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FASTER ALTERNATIVE TO PCR: The DPI tests are an alternative to the traditional PCR tests for COVID-19, which take longer to yield results compared to the five minutes taken for the rapid tests. Image Credit:
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DPI tester QuantLase Imaging Lab
DEVELOPER: QuantLase Imaging Lab, the medical research arm of International Holdings Company (IHC), has developed the innovative device that enables faster COVID-19 mass screening. The new system is considered a "game-changer" and the new first line of defence against community viral transmission. Image Credit: WAM
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Dh50 ($13.6) TEST FEE: A negative test on the DPI machine means you will be allowed to enter Abu Dhabi within 48 hours from the time of testing. The new system is considered a "game-changer" and the new first line of defence against community viral transmission. Image Credit:
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CONFIRMATION PCR TEST: If you test positive on the DPI machine, it means you would need a confirmatory PCR test at the center, which will then cost Dh320. The examinee must stay home until the result is out. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
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AIR-CONDITIONED TENT: The facility is in a tent near the Abu Dhabi-Dubai border and is manned by over 150 staff members. The UAE has pioneered the DPI-based rapid test. The non-invasive test uses “optical biosensors” and is seen as a game-changer in the coronavirus fight. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News