Australian medical researchers have come up with a test that can ascertain the presence of novel coronavirus in a span of 20 minutes using blood samples, which they have claimed is a "world-first breakthrough". Researchers at Monash University have stated that their test can discover if a person is infected by the disease at present or has been infected in the past. 

In a paper published in the journal ACS Sensors on Friday, the researchers stated, "Short-term applications include rapid case identification and contact tracing to limit viral spread, while population screening to determine the extent of viral infection across communities is a longer-term need,".

BioPRIA and Monash University's Chemical Engineering Department led the research on the new COVID-19 blood test along with researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent BioNano Science and Technology (CBNS). Employing 25 microlitres of plasma extracted from blood samples, the test aims to look for clumping of particles (agglutination), or a clustering of red blood cells, that the coronavirus causes.

The agglutination analysis, which is primarily used to identify the presence and amount of a substance in blood, can also help in deducing whether a person had been infected by coronavirus recently, after the infection is resolved. The researchers stated this test is different from the current swab tests used in the detection of the COVID-19 infection in people. 

The researchers added saying that hundreds of samples can be tested using this latest COVID-10 blood test, which they're hopeful will be used in the identification of antibodies raised in response to vaccination to aid clinical trials. They further stated they have filed a patent for the innovation and are currently looking for government and commercial support for the expansion of its production. 

More than 13.8 million people around the world have tested positive for coronavirus so far with the disease claiming nearly 600,000 lives since its outbreak in China late last year. Up until now, Australia has reported more than 11,000 COVID-19 cases and 116 casualties.