Army asks industry to develop handheld or smartphone test system to screen patients for the coronavirus

March 30, 2020
LFIs require minimal training, can be read visually, and provide additional data when combined with smartphone-based reader technology like the AppDx.

NATICK, Mass. – U.S. Army researchers are asking industry for a handheld doctor-assisted or self-test system to screen patients for one strain of the coronavirus -- the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Officials of the Army Contracting Command in Natick, Mass., issued a sources-sought announcement last week (W911QY-20-S-0006) for Development of Lateral Flow Immunoassays (LFI) for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Lateral flow immunoassays, otherwise known as an LFI, is a simple-to-use diagnostic device to confirm the presence or absence of viruses or other contaminants in humans or animals. The most commonly known type of an LFI test strip is the over-the-counter pregnancy test.

LFIs require minimal training to operate, can be read visually, and can provide additional data when combined with reader technology like the AppDx -- a smartphone app that works in any testing location to enable rapid diagnoses and decision making.

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LFI tests are common for point-of-care testing, and can be performed by a health care professional or by the patient in settings that include the laboratory, doctor's office, or even at home.

Because of their versatility, lateral flow rapid tests can be used not only in health care, but also in pharmaceutical manufacturing, environmental testing, animal health, food and feed testing, and plant and crop health.

Army researchers want LFIs for SARS-CoV-2. Also of interest is handheld screening capability for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), which has caused a global pandemic. The Army Contracting Command issued this announcement on behalf of the U.S. Defense Biological Product Assurance Office (DBPAO) at Fort Detrick, Md.

DBPAO experts want to develop an easy-to-use handheld LFI as a screening tool for detecting SARS-CoV-2 virus in specimens from infected persons or persons suspected of viral exposure.

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The LFIs, intended to be read with the human eye, will be used with nasopharyngeal swab specimens, similar to existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

The DBPAO needs a lot of 5000 LFIs for testing and evaluation to be delivered to a contracted third party by 24 April 2020. Companies responding should be able to provide clinical buffer and nasal swabs as part of a kit.

Companies interested should email Leo Fratis no later than this Friday, 3 April 2020, at [email protected]. More information is online at

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