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New Beaumont test looks for COVID-19 in urine, blood or saliva

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

Researchers at Beaumont Health have developed a new test that can detect COVID-19 in urine, saliva, and blood. Test results take 30-45 minutes, and don’t require expensive lab equipment to be processed.

Laura Lamb is one of the researchers who worked on developing the test. She says the accuracy of the test was one of the most important considerations. Lamb says the test is very accurate.


“Of the samples that they said were positive, we were in agreement 95 percent of the time, and for the samples they said were negative, we were in agreement 90 percent of the time. So that’s actually really good in terms of accuracy, compared to that standard which is really high," she said.


“Molecular testing tests directly for the actual virus in the system. Our test is a molecular test, so this is something that if you have the virus present, it will detect it," Lamb said.


Lamb and a physician, Dr. Michael Chancellor, developed the technology for a quick response test in for the zika virus three years ago. They used a technology called RT-LAMP, or reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification. Lamb says the need for the zika test faded as the threat of the zika virus faded as well. She says that when the COVID-19 pandemic became a growing concern in January, she and Dr. Chancellor began working on adapting the technology for a COVID-19 test.


The test still isn’t widely available, as Beaumont is looking for corporate sponsors or donors, but Lamb says she hopes it will help contain the virus.


“We just basically want to help people. We want to figure out who’s sick early, get them the help they need, and keep them from getting other people sick, which is also going to help reopen local economies," she said.


Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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