A Brazilian laboratory developed a test that detects the coronavirus directly from clinical samples collected from the mucosa of the nose or throat by a cotton swab and works as an alternative to the lack of inputs for the RT-PCR test, which detects the RNA of the virus. Through mass spectrometry, a process that identifies molecules by analyzing their mass and structure, the material collected is evaluated to see the presence of the three exclusive nucleoprotein segments of the virus that causes covid-19, a discovery by the professionals at Grupo Fleury, who created the diagnostic method.

The proteins present in the collected material are extracted by magnetic particles and become smaller molecules that undergo a process called chromatography, which separate them by polarity. Then there is a screening using mass spectrometry. Infection with covid-19 is confirmed with the positive result of the presence of proteins exclusive to the coronavirus.

The test is now available in hospitals and laboratories outside of São Paulo, with which Fleury has a contract, and is recommended for people who have been experiencing covid-19 symptoms for at least three days. According to the company, it is possible to analyze more than 1,500 samples in one day. “We don’t have this type of test anywhere that is published,” says Celso Granato, an infectologist and Clinical Director at Grupo Fleury. The company put an article on the internet about the new exam for evaluation by the scientific community – a specialized journal, whose name has not been released, is examining the text.

The test was validated using 562 samples that had already been analyzed using the RT-PCR exam, after detecting more than 83% of positive cases. The result is ready in up to three days.

According to Grupo Fleury, the new test is aimed at serving regions distant from the country’s major centers where there is no collection through units. The exam value must be 15% lower than the RT-PCR. However, the final cost will be defined for the consumer by the laboratories themselves.

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