Irish company to release kit that can test for coronavirus in just 15 minutes

19 Mar 2020

Image: © Parilov/

An Irish company is hoping to help slow the spread of coronavirus with a testing kit that is faster than others on the market.

Within a matter of weeks, Irish company Assay Genie – a Reagent Genie brand – plans to have a coronavirus testing kit that could reduce testing time from a number of hours to as little as 15 minutes.

Speaking with the Irish Independent, Assay Genie chief executive Colm Ryan and CTO Seán Mac Fhearraigh said this test – which measures one drop of blood – could be a “clinical weapon” to combat the virus.

The test has been in development since the original outbreak of the virus in China, they said. Existing tests are able to detect the virus using a technique called quantitative real-time PCR, which can take up to four hours for a result.

The Assay Genie test, meanwhile, uses colloidal gold immunochromatography, which can detect the virus and antibodies in human blood, serum and plasma. Positive samples will see the vials used in testing change colour.

The task at hand

Although still in pilot phase, Ryan and Mac Fhearraigh said that demand for the testing kits has been significant, with some Irish hospitals looking to obtain them once approved.

“[Hospitals are] taking free tests on the first batch. We should have a consignment out in seven days,” Ryan said.

“We are getting a lot of contacts from frontline staff, especially from pharmacies. There’s a global shortage of raw materials for the test kits being used currently. And I think some people don’t realise the mammoth task involved in testing.”

Elsewhere, researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK and China have revealed details of their rapid testing kit that can detect the virus in just 30 minutes.

Similar to the Assay Genie test, results from the Oxford test can be seen with the naked eye. The test includes three vials, each with different primers. A positive test would turn two vials yellow and leave one pink. This acts as a negative control to confirm the test is working.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic