The Chinese company that makes Flash 20, the “fastest machine in the world” to do PCR tests and detect coronavirus in just 30 minutes, now plans to conquer Europe and America.
In a Beijing laboratory, an attendant in a pink suit takes a sample from the airway, adds reagents and places it in a black and white printer-sized device.
It is the machine called Flash 20, which costs 300,000 yuan (about $ 44,000) and serves to detect the presence, or absence, of the coronavirus.
The machine provides the diagnosis in half an hour, and the person examined receives the result directly on his cell phone.
“It can be useful for hospitals and their emergency services. For example, when an injured person needs to have an operation. We can quickly determine whether or not they are infected,” Coyote president and founder Sabrina Li told AFP.
“It is currently the fastest machine in the world for PCR testing for coronavirus,” said this 38-year-old former student from the United States, who founded the biotechnology company in 2009.
With the ability to analyze four samples at the same time, Flash 20 is especially useful in an emergency.
In China, airports use this machine to monitor passengers arriving from abroad. And health officials have been using it for months to run tests on residents of confined neighborhoods due to the covid-19.
– Trump Test – First country to face the new coronavirus, China claims to have contained the pandemic, thanks to quarantines, the use of masks and the monitoring of contacts through personal data.
The virus, however, continues to circulate actively in other parts of the world. The death toll has just passed the million.
Detection is one of the weapons used to control the epidemic. PCR virological tests are considered the most reliable, but their management is complex and, in general, takes several hours to obtain a result.
Because of this, other methods are also used.
US President Donald Trump on Monday announced the distribution of 150 million “quick” detection kits in his country. They look similar to pregnancy tests and provide the result in 15 minutes.
However, they have the disadvantage of being much less sensitive than PCR tests.
Coyote officials ensure that their Flash 20 machine is not only fast, but also reliable.
Between February and July, Chinese authorities conducted 500,000 validation tests. The conclusion was that the results (positive and negative) of the machine were 97% similar to those of conventional PCR tests.
In addition to the Chinese certification, Flash 20 also obtained certification from the European Union and Australia. Coyote now hopes to obtain certification from the United States (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Two other machines are also in the process of being validated in the UK. The company says it is “in talks” with French buyers.
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“It is true that the West is much more advanced in technological development than Asia, especially China,” said the technical director of Coyote and responsible for the Flash 20 project, Zang Yuepeng.
However, the SARS epidemic (2003-2004) was a shock to China and caused a major “reorganization” of the sector, which has since made great progress in research and development, he points out.
“That’s why we were able to design and get this product to market quickly after the outbreak” of covid-19, added Zang.
The designers of Flash 20 claim that their machine is easy to use and can be operated by anyone, not just specialized professionals.
The only brake at the moment is the production capacity. Coyote can produce just 500 machines a month, but plans to double that number before the end of the year.