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South Coast Researchers Develop New Simple, Low Cost COVID-19 Check; Awaiting Federal Approval


Researchers say efforts to track the status of coronavirus in a South Coast college community also shows a COVID-19 test they’ve developed may be an important new tool in the battle against the virus.

UC Santa Barbara biologist Carolina Arias and a team of colleagues targeted young adults at UCSB, Isla Vista, and Goleta.  More than 1800 volunteers were tested in two batches from May to June, and June to July.

None of the volunteers reported having symptoms, so they believed they had no reason to be tested.

The research says all nine people in the project who tested positive were in the second batch in late June and early July, which coincided with the increase of cases being seen in Santa Barbara County.

Arias says the study highlights the issue with young adults who are largely asymptomatic, and have the potential to spread the virus.

But, the researcher says what’s exciting is the potentially low cost COVID-19 test they developed at the university compares well with other established tests.  Arias says they’re hoping the test can provide a simpler, more affordable testing option.

UCSB Health Services staff members as well as Cottage Health clinicians are also a part of the project, which was just presented in a research paper for peer review.  UCSB officials say another benefit of the project was giving them ideas on how to accomplish mass COVID-19 screenings, which will be needed when full in-person instruction resumes.  

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