Coronavirus NY: Northwell Health's new COVID PCR tests will be faster, cheaper

Coronavirus Update for New York
NEW HYDE PARK, Long Island (WABC) -- New York state's largest hospital system is rolling out a new COVID test that could be a game changer.

The new process will allow 10 times more testing at one tenth of the cost and it's just as accurate, if not more so, than the current PCR testing we have for COVID.

So why is that? It's automated. These machines load 96 PCR tests at once, and then another machine tests 384 all at once.

The technology, called LabGold, is part of a grant at Northwell Health from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The idea was borrowed from the agriculture industry.

Northwell lab scientists in New Hyde Park demonstrated how they've now perfected it.

"Anyone who needs testing can get testing simply and inexpensively and immediately when you need it," Northwell Labs Executive Director Dr. Dwayne Breining.

It means no more testing sites, and the PCR turnaround is quicker -- about a day.

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The 6-year-old son of a Northwell doctor, showed how simple it really is, and you don't need to swab so far up your nose.

Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager also demonstrated the swab, saying "I'm not going too deep up, and it doesn't feel like it's puncturing my brain."

Northwell hopes to roll out these kits to the general public in the coming weeks, but the FDA will require people to be monitored as they do them.

Ultimately, they're hoping people can just do the tests themselves.

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A multi-dotted rolling plastic has other amazing implications. For example, it can answer if it's not COVID -- what is it.

Each dot can do a PCR for things like the common cold, RSV, and other bugs in the future.

"And so, we envision being able to run all of those off a single swab -- all at once," Northwell Labs Vice Chair Dr. Tylis Chang said.

Technology that's been around - but now, is being accelerated by the pandemic.


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