MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fast, accurate and widely available testing remains a major problem in the fight to control COVID-19. It’s something scientists at 3M and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hope to change.

“We’re attempting to create was is essentially a low cost, highly accurate, simple test that’s accessible by millions,” 3M’s chief technology officer John Banovetz said.

The two powerhouses are partnering on a rapid antigen test that returns COVID-19 results in minutes, not days. It will use a paper strip to detect the virus fragments. A major challenge is to make it as accurate as the widely used PCR testing.

“It’s something you could pick up at the local pharmacy or doctor’s clinic. It’s very easy to use and simple. You get a result quickly and it’s still highly accurate and accessible,” Banovetz said.

MIT is banking on 3M’s manufacturing might to source vital materials, then quickly scale up mass production.

“It’s in our nature, in our culture. We’ve done it for a lot of different products where we’ve been able to create and innovate something new to the world, and this definitely would be new to the world,” Banovetz said.

And a game changer by eliminating delays, as the state struggles to reopen schools and businesses.

“We’re going as quick as we can,” Banovetz said.

If given FDA approval, 3M says it could turn out millions of rapid test kits each day.

Bill Hudson

Comments