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British companies iAbra and TT Electronics are preparing to launch their Virolens device, a COVID-19 saliva screening system that returns results within 20 seconds. The device utilises a digital microscope and AI-powered software to screen mouth swamp samples for COVID-19.

The system, which has recently undergone a pilot at London’s Heathrow airport, is cost-effective, repeatable and self-administered. According to TT Electronics, hundreds of tests can be performed per day with the system.

According to validation studies from the University of Bristol, the Virolens' false negative rate stands at 0.2 per cent, with a false-positive rate of 3.3 per cent. Following the first round of testing among Heathrow employees, the system’s developers are planning full clinical trials as they seek certifications to enable medical use.

iAbra CEO Greg Compton said: “This is a significant step forward in the battle against COVID-19, much of which has revolved around our inability to keep society moving with the constant background threat of infection.”

“Our system allows simple, high speed, reliable and low-cost testing in dynamic environments. In short, with the Virolens system, we can get the world moving again.”

Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland Kaye, meanwhile, added: “Testing for COVID-19 is the lifeline that the UK economy needs to get back on its feet. Currently the bottleneck is the availability of the government’s preferred PCR testing labs – Rapid Point of Care tests solve that problem.”

“I have experienced iAbra’s test myself, alongside the PCR test—it is quicker and cheaper, and potentially more accurate. We urge the government to fast-track this technology to protect the economy and help save millions of jobs in this country.”

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