By Natalie Rahhal Us Health Editor
Published: 16:45 BST, 1 September 2020 | Updated: 17:05 BST, 1 September 2020
At-home coronavirus tests may soon be sensitive enough to tell people if they are infected before they even develop symptoms, thanks to a new invention.
Cheap, daily, at-home coronavirus testing would be the 'holy grail' to reopening society ahead of a widely available vaccine.
But current testing technology is unlikely to pick up the virus from nasal, saliva or urine samples until a few days after exposure, and typically after symptoms have begun (if someone is going to become symptomatic).
That's because there aren't enough copies of the virus in the person's body - and therefore their sample in those first days of infection - to be detected by the extremely powerful machines in high-tech labs.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, however, have invented a device that could solve that problem by forcing far higher concentrations of the virus within samples, so that a simple test at home can detect the pathogen.
Scientists used a high pressure device to concentrate more copies of flu virus into a sample of saliva, making them easier to detect. It's a promising step toward a test that could diagnose people with other viruses - including SARS-CoV-2 - before they develop symptoms
Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recent suggestion that people without symptoms don't necessarily need to get tested for coronavirus, anyone can currently get swabbed and find out with near-certainty if they are infected.
But the process is