New Test Kit Lets You Swab Surfaces for Coronavirus

Johnny Lopez
July 31, 2020 - 2:08 pm

    There’s now a way to easily detect if a surface has been contaminated by coronavirus.

    Phylagen Surface is a new test kit developed by a biotech company to allow people to swab public spaces for the novel virus and get results within 48 hours, reported “Today.”

    While COVID-19 is primarily transmitted by inhaling droplets, testing surfaces gives the capability of figuring out if infected individuals have been inside an office, school, or other building.

    The kits come with ten swabs, a paired phone app and instructions on how to use the test on various high and low-touch surfaces. The ten-pack kit is currently available for $400.

    NBC News investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen tried out Phylagen Surface and shared how the kit requires you to dip the swab in the provided solution and then swipe it along the desired surface. The end of the swab is then snapped off, put in a sample tube and sent to the company’s laboratory for analyses.  Results are then given within 48 hours.

    Nguyen and her associates swabbed surfaces in five states, including New York, Florida and California. They tested various surfaces such as door handles, handrails, and keypads in restrooms, coffee shops, grocery stores and other public spaces.

    In all, they found 6% of indoor surfaces came back positive for coronavirus.

    Among the surfaces that came up positive were an ATM, grocery cart handle and a restaurant tablecloth, the outlet noted.

    Dr. Tista Ghosh, an epidemiologist and former chief medical officer of Colorado's state health department, advised how positive results may not give the entire picture of the situation.

    "The limitations are that you really don't know how much of the virus is there," Ghosh told "Today." "And you don't know if it's dead or alive. So you don't know if it can actually infect somebody or not."

    Dr. Harrison Dillon, co-founder of Phylagen Surface, believes the test kits are key for helping curtail transmission of the virus.

    "A positive surface test in a business or school provides lead time to mitigate a spreading event,” Dillon added. “Phylagen Surface makes this critical technology available widely."

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