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Pharmacists at Germany’s University of Halle-Wittenberg have developed a way of detecting small amounts of coronavirus in gargling solution, a technique which could be used for testing.

The study used samples of a solution that patients infected with the coronavirus had gargled with, successfully tracing the virus with a technique called mass spectrometry, the university said in a statement on Wednesday.

The institution said the new method must be further refined before it could be used as a standard diagnostic tool to complement existing coronavirus tests.

The test is highly specific as it targets protein components that exist only in the novel coronavirus, also known as Sars-CoV-2.

“We measure direct peptides coming from the virus, not the genetic material,’’ Andrea Sinz, who worked on the study, explained.

At present the test results take 15 minutes and are significant even with only small amounts of gargling solution.

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The team of pharmacists are working on reducing testing times.

“If successful, the test samples would be easy to handle and measurements could be conducted by non-specialized staff,” the scientists said.

While the new method would not be available immediately, Ms Sinz said she hoped the test would be operational in a few months. (dpa/NAN)

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