The test, which uses a sample taken with a cotton swab, can return a result within just 30 minutes.
The “revolutionary” system has been developed by Normandy-based DNA startup Loop Dee Science in collaboration with Normandy technology company Eldim and the CHU hospital in Caen. It has now received approval to be sold in France and worldwide, pending CE certification.
The test is intended to be easy and convenient to use, even outside of a hospital or lab, and includes a system of small plastic blocks that display a green light if the patient has tested negative, and a red light if positive.
Rodrigue Courchant, communications head at Loop Dee Science, told news service FranceInfo: “It is intended for all medical personnel, from GPs to dentists to care home workers, who can perform tests themselves.”
The super-fast test has been seen as a welcome development at a time when town laboratories are reporting waits of more than 48 hours to return results, long queues of up to five hours outside labs to have a test, and patients being forced to wait up to two weeks for booked-in-advance online appointments.
A super-quick test will be especially welcomed by some scientists, who have said that the delay between getting symptoms and receiving a positive test result can mean that people are not isolating fast enough, and thereby not containing the virus effectively.
In a report this week, national scientific council Le Conseil Scientifique has branded the French two-week isolation period as a “failure”.
Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, president of the council, said: “Our citizens have the idea that you isolate when you test positive. That’s practically too late. You need to isolate as soon as there are suspicious symptoms. You cannot wait for the results from the test.”