Researchers have developed a cheaper COVID-19 test that claims to deliver results in less than 20 minutes

Researchers have developed a cheaper COVID-19 test that claims to deliver results in less than 20 minutes
The 'Harmony' COVID-19 test kit developed by researchers at the University of Washington.University of Washington
  • A new cheap and fast COVID-19 test is being developed by researchers at the University of Washington.
  • Called ‘Harmony’ this test combines the accuracy and speed of the current PCR tests.
  • The team behind Harmony plans to make this COVID-19 test easily accessible globally and at an affordable price.
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a fast and cheap COVID-19 test that can provide results in less than 20 minutes. The ‘Harmony’ test combines the speed of the Rapid Antigen test and the accuracy of the RT-PCR test that are currently used to detect if a person has COVID-19 or not.

This new test works like the current ones wherein it detects genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But it assures not only speed but accuracy as well. The team behind the Harmony test is led by Barry Lutz, a UW associate professor of bioengineering and investigator with the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine.

Here’s how it works

The Harmony COVID-19 test has been designed to be simple and easy-to-use. Similar to the PCR methods, you take a nasal swab sample with a small, and low-cost detector. The results will then appear on a smartphone which is used to operate the detector. This detector can be used to test up to four samples at a time.

This test detects three regions of the virus’ genome, and it’s even claimed to detect two mutations of the virus. The Harmony kit is also said to have 97 per cent accuracy for nasal swabs.

How it’s different from current tests

According to Lutz, this test uses a PCR-like method known as RT-LAMP that lets the test operate at a constant temperature without the need to heat and cool. The current PCR method goes through cycles of heating and cooling to detect the virus’ genetic material which takes some time. But the Harmony test saves time and delivers results faster while using a similar method.


Lutz along with two colleagues from the UW founded a new company called Anavasi Diagnostics to develop the Harmony COVID-19 tests. The company received funding of $300,000 from WE-REACH which is the Center for Washington Entrepreneurial Research Evaluation & Commercialization Hub. It also received $14.9 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for large scale manufacturing of the test.

The Harmony COVID-19 test will be available in clinics first along with workplaces and schools. Lutz also plans to later make the test available for home use, and accessible globally at an affordable price.

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