A rapid diagnostic kit that can detect coronavirus infection from saliva samples within 50 minutes is currently “in production and ramping up,” according to Dr. Zvi Marom, CEO of Israeli company BATM.
In our previous report on the kit’s development, Marom explained that the BATM test is compatible with equipment used to do RT-PCR, the current hospital-based method for diagnosing COVID-19 in a matter of hours.
“Obviously we are pretty overwhelmed [with requests] but I believe in a few weeks we will be able to ship our kit to almost everybody that wants it,” Marom said today (March 19).
He said BATM is working with academic and research institutions, mainly in Europe, to make the kit available at a price point suitable for large-scale production.
Meanwhile, Marom tells ISRAEL21c that BATM is also developing a home diagnostic kit for COVID-19.
“We came to the conclusion that we need to bring something to the table that helps the general population,” he says.
That’s because few COVID-19 patients – mainly the elderly and those with underlying diseases — actually need hospitalization.
“So we want to give you the ability to test yourself at home, and if you are healthy and young you can just recover at home and call a doctor if you feel really bad,” says Marom, who is a physician.
He hopes the home COVID-19 test will be ready for mass production within the next three to four months. Even if the current epidemic has passed by then, he says, coronavirus is likely “to come to visit us again in the future many times” and the kits will allow people to test themselves at home.
“The combination of a very accurate laboratory test plus a home kit is a pretty good starting approach to see what’s going on,” says Marom.
“We are also checking research that suggests it may be possible to differentiate, among people already infected, who will get seriously sick and who will be in better condition. If it’s true, a lot of things that can be done in hospitals and in treatment. This we will know only in a few days.”