The UW SCAN home-testing study team pulled together components such as transport media and sample bags, and created a new quick-start instruction card in multiple languages.
The Lutz-Thompson team is also applying other concepts they developed for the Seattle Flu Study to COVID-19. They are working to develop symptom-based predictions of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, and to design at-home studies that will evaluate coronavirus self-tests as companies develop them.
Symptom-based predictions can inform a diagnosis, and accurate predictions could be used for tracing and tracking outbreaks, or to create a “symptom checker”-type app that could be filled out at a doctor’s office or screening point at the airport. “We’re interested in diagnosing individuals on the spot,” says Dr. Lutz.
They’re currently reviewing all symptom reports in the literature to see if any consensus emerges to help develop predictions. In the future, they plan to also search medical records and survey the public, as they have done for flu prediction studies.
The team is also working on ways to evaluate the home tests that companies are rapidly developing. They want to determine how accurate and usable the tests are in real-life conditions, when untrained people take a sample, run the test and interpret the results, all at home.
Lutz lab develops rapid community and at-home tests
In a separate project, the Lutz research group is developing tests for the novel coronavirus, officially called SARS-CoV-2, that would enable minimally-trained staff or untrained users at home to diagnose COVID-19. The tests are based on a simple device and chemistry that his lab had been developing for the past year to diagnose flu and HIV from a nasal swab.