A new Israeli Covid test has been approved for use by the EU, opening the door for quick results across Europe and the rest of the world – including at airports. The timing of the announcement is significant.
As increasing numbers of people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, demand is growing for a full return to unrestrictedinternational air travel. While the global pandemic affected everyone, it had a particularly devastating effect on the airline and tourism industries.
Not only would a resumption of mass flying reverse this situation, it would also give people the opportunity to resume business connections, reunite with their families, or simply go on holiday again.
This would not be without risk, however. Countries could find themselves struggling to control Covid infection levels by importing more of the virus via visitors, including more contagious or dangerous strains. The tendency of the virus to frequently mutate means this would be a concern even for countries that have successfully vaccinated high percentages of their populations.
Since Covid-19 is often asymptomatic, the only way to know for sure if a traveler is infectious is by administering a test. However, getting the results back currently takes several days – far too long for someone who about to get on a flight.
This is where the handheld SpectraLIT device could make a difference. Developed by the Israeli firm Newsight in partnership with the Sheba Medical Center, the SpectraLITpromises highly accurate results in just 20 seconds.
While similar technology has been touted in the past, it hasnever been used in spaces such as airports due to accuracy concerns. The SpectraLIT however has just received approvalfrom the EU, paving the way to mass adoption.
The development of the SpectraLIT represents another technological success for Israel in general, and Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology – in particular. Three of the key figures involved in the creation of SpectaLIT (Eli Schwartz, Eyal Yatskan, and Eyal Zimlichma) are all graduates of the Technion.
Since 1912, the academic institution has been at the forefront of spearheading Israel’s scientific endeavours. Israel today is the country with the highest percentage of scientists and engineers – and the majority of them studied at the Technion, home to three of Israel’s five science Nobel Laureates.
The SpectraLIT test is currently administered as a traditional nasal swab, but a less intrusive gargle method is also available. Both types use the same radical procedure that differentiates the SpectraLIT from the current process. At the moment regular swab tests require chemical analysis at a laboratory, resulting in long delays. The SpectraLIT, however, shines light through the sample, getting the result from a unique computer chip that reads the ensuing pattern.
Alan Aziz, CEO of Technion UK, commented: “Israel was called to be a light onto the nations, but it’s never normally this literal. We are very proud that three Technion graduates have been involved in developing the revolutionary SpectraLIT system, offering Covid tests in less time than it takes to check-in your luggage.”
Notes to editor about Technion:
The Technion has earned a global reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, life sciences, stem-cell technology, water management, sustainable energy, information technology, biotechnology, materials engineering and aerospace. It is also one of only five similar institutes worldwide that include a medical school, encouraging rapid progress in biotechnology, drug development, and stem-cell technology. As Israel’s centre for high-tech education and research, the Technion is central to the nation’s economic progress. As the premier institute of its kind in the region, Technion breakthroughs can benefit all the nations of the Middle East. As a worldclass research university, the Technion helps advance the frontiers of science and technology to benefit people around the world.