With funding support from Genome Atlantic and Research Nova Scotia, a Dalhousie University research team is working on a new COVID testing technology called ‘pooling’. The technique should be able to test more people, in a shorter time frame, and at reduced overall costs.
Instead of the current approach which can be labour and supply intensive, pooling would batch test a large number of samples all at once using a DNA sequencer. The technique would be especially useful in a large single facilities such as nursing homes, or in packing plants where people work closely together.
One of the researchers is Nikhil Thomas. He points out that “testing is paramount to know where the virus is and instilling contact tracing and containment measures to limit further spread”.
If the technique is finalized quickly and meets Health Canada guidelines, Dr. Thomas says it could be ready before the expected second wave of COVID-19 hits Canada.
He talked with freelance broadcaster Don Hill about the work aimed a ramping up testing to curb COVID-19 or other future disease outbreaks.