One big question at this stage in the pandemic is when will it be safe to fly again, with persistent fears around flying with potentially infected fellow passengers. In part to allay those concerns, Edmonton International Airport is set to be the proving ground for a new graphene-based test for COVID-19 that gives accurate results in seconds.
The hope is that by developing such a rapid and accurate test that can be conducted at airports, it could eliminate the need for flyers to quarantine for 2 weeks when they reach their destination, particularly on international flights.
The test uses a handheld device that collects a saliva sample, and can reportedly return results in less than one minute, with no need to wait for lab results, which can often take days or more. Once the saliva enters the device, the internal graphene surface bonds with the virus’ spike protein, which changes the graphene’s electronic characteristics. That change is then looked at to determine if a test subject is positive or negative for the disease, with a red or green light indicating the result.
Initial testing of the technology is expected to start rolling out in autumn 2020, with the goal of securing regulatory approval for more widespread use from Health Canada and other international health regulators.