A Boise tech firm called Facible that had been working on a roadside test for CBD and THC has switched its focus. Now, it is working on developing a five-minute test for the coronavirus.
If the development of the test is successful, it could be rolled out nationwide with huge ramifications for how authorities respond to the ongoing crisis.
The Need for Testing
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus began in early 2020, health experts have discussed the need for a reliable and quick test that can accurately diagnose infections in travelers.
Controlling the spread of the disease requires knowledge of who is infected. Right now, lockdown measures are the only way to definitively prevent the virus from spreading.
However, the forced closure of businesses, schools, and public gathering places has already caused extensive damage to the economy. If these lockdown measures remain in effect for months, as experts predict they might need to in the absence of reliable testing, the US could see upwards of 30% unemployment by summer – numbers beyond even the worst of the Great Depression a century ago.
If the development of a roadside test is successful, the new capability to test people instantly could be a “game-changer” by allowing uninfected people to return to school and work while filtering out the positive cases for appropriate treatment.
Facible’s Unique Approach to Coronavirus Testing
Important differences between Facible’s coronavirus test, which is still in development, and other conventional tests gives hope to the medical community for a better way to detect the virus in patients.
Most tests for viruses, including COVID-19, rely on detecting antibodies in the blood to confirm a positive diagnosis. However, there are several drawbacks to this method. First of all, it is impossible to tell whether the virus is active in the body by testing for only antibodies. The immune system produces antibodies, proteins manufactured to target and destroy specific pathogens, in response to infections. These antibodies are left circulating in the blood even after the virus is gone. Therefore, a patient could test positive for antibodies after he or she has already defeated the virus, making the test less than accurate for diagnosing active infections.
Facible’s test, on the other hand, specifically looks for the viral proteins of the virus. The tech firm startup’s test, still in development, could make diagnosis much more accurate and, in effect, curb the spread of the disease by arming healthcare workers with better information.
An Economic Alternative for CBD Tech Firms
The coronavirus has taken the world by storm, virtually shutting down entire economies and grinding business to a halt as all resources are poured into battling the growing pandemic.
The CBD industry, which was set to grow by billions of dollars annually for the next several years, is likely to suffer from the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak as much or more than other industries.
For startups like Facible, originally intended to support the CBD industry, finding novel ways to battle the novel coronavirus is essentially a struggle for survival.
Experts predict that, in the long run, the CBD industry will continue its growth experienced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, though, companies like Facible are focused on adapting to the new reality of economic life following the outbreak.