Wanted: Rapid, Portable Tests for Coronavirus

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At Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a potential COVID-19 patient can now drive in to the ambulance bay, roll down their window, and ask staff to swab their nose and throat.

Those swabs will be sent to a state lab for a real-time PCR test, which amplifies any viral genetic material so it can be compared to the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. But this standard test must be carried out in a certified laboratory with trained technicians, takes 3 to 4 days to deliver results, and produces some false negatives.

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