New type of COVID test developed in Milford lab samples virus-infected cells for more accuracy

Coronavirus

MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Instead of using a commercial test kit, Doctor Sin Hang Lee has developed his own COVID test at the Milford Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory.

It is much more accurate than just about all of the tests currently available. That’s because Dr. Lee is doing things very differently. First of all, what others are testing is not actual cells.

“And after we centrifuge them down, the cells are in the bottom.”

Dr. Lee is testing actual cells.

Dr. Lee said “So we catch virus-infected cells in a specimen. As you know, one cell may have thousands of virus particles, so all you need is one or two cells.”

Then Dr. Lee sequences the genes of every positive sample to find variants of the virus. Commercial labs are only looking for variants on 5% of samples.

“Ought to test sequencing on every positive specimen, not only test the 5% of the specimens which has a very high viral load.”

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For example, if we had 20 M&Ms, but only sampled the biggest one, we’d always end up with peanut. If a lab is only testing the 5% of samples with the biggest viral load, they could miss all kinds of variations in the rest.

“For me, I can test every positive sample for emerging variants, so this is different,” Dr. Lee said.

It was so different, it was tough to convince government regulators that he was getting different results for a good reason.

Dr. Lee added, “All the new tests have to match their results with other tests. Our result could not match any of them, because ours are better.”

It took a year, but he now has the permits, and he hopes other labs will use his methods, too.

“There are 6,000 hospitals in this country, and every hospital laboratory should be able to do what I am doing,” Dr. Lee said.

Then, Dr. Lee said, we will have a real picture of the COVID variants and where they are.

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