Fifteen minute coronavirus test developed in Belgium

New test is less accurate than laboratory tests but much faster and cheaper

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The centre of Bruges, usually packed with up to 60,000 tourists a day, is deserted with Belgium is under strict lockdown rules. 
The centre of Bruges, usually packed with up to 60,000 tourists a day, is deserted with Belgium under strict lockdown rules.  Credit: Stephanie LeCocq/Shutterstock

A new test that can diagnose Covid-19 in just 15 minutes has been developed in Belgium. 

The “antigenic” test reacts to viral proteins in samples taken from the upper part of the throat behind the nose and comes in the form of blotting paper, similar to that used in pregnancy tests. 

If rolled out, the new coronavirus test could lead to confirmed cases being treated quicker and fewer laboratory tests being needed, the RTBF broadcaster reported. 

Molecular biology tests carried out in the laboratory are more accurate but more expensive and take much longer. 

A trial last week with 250 people found that seven out of ten patients with Covid-19 tested positive with the new test. While the test is only thought to be about 70 percent effective, Belgian health authorities certified it for sale. 

The fast test was developed by Coris BioConcept, which is based in Gembloux, Belgium, with a number of universities and research partners. 

The designers want the test to be rolled out by the authorities at national level to improve patient care and cut costs. A number of hospitals in Belgium already plan to use the faster test. 

Belgium closed its borders to all non-essential travel in and out of the country last Friday. It had already shut down cafes, bars, non-essential shops and schools and introduced social distancing rules. 

56 people died in the last 24 hours, Belgian authorities announced on Wednesday, taking the death toll from coronavirus to 178. 

668 new confirmed cases of coronavirus were announced, bringing the total to 4,937. 

434 people were hospitalised in the last 24 hours, the authorities said, which reversed the downward trend in hospitalisations over the previous two days.