A Michigan State University student has developed a COVID-19 test that delivers faster results and is said to come with a lower price tag.

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The timing of the fourth-year MSU student's test is critical, as COVID cases in Michigan are on the rise due to the Delta variant, and students in Genesee County return to class. A mask mandate was issued earlier this month, requiring all students in Kindergarten through sixth grade in Genesee County to mask up as they return to class.

Zach Morehouse says that his idea to formulate the new test came about because he was seeking out a way to allow for diagnostics in areas that couldn't otherwise afford to set up huge testing labs. He tells Lansing TV station WILX-TV that he's working with lab equipment company Omni International, using machines called homogenizers.

“You put the sample into the collection tube that it would go into either way. That swab then is shaken on our device, and through that shaking process, it gets the virus off of the swab and it breaks apart the virus and so the genetic material is then transferred right into the PCR reaction,”  Morehouse tells the TV station in this video.

He goes on to say that the sample collection process is similar insofar as swabs are still used as a collection vehicle, but analyzing the test doesn't require the same chemicals and specialized lab equipment used to analyze traditional tests.

“We’re hoping that this speeds up the turnaround time on testing, and since there’s not as many resources involved, hopefully, it’ll help reduce cost for the tests,” he said.

Morehouse hopes the technology will also be useful in the future to detect other viruses like the flu.

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