Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson BA MLA

Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson BA MLA

Minister for Health; Mental Health

Hon Stephen Dawson MLC

Hon Stephen Dawson MLC

Minister for Emergency Services; Innovation and ICT; Medical Research; Volunteering

    New study to capture data on undetected COVID-19 in Perth

    17/03/2022 1:45 PM
    • McGowan Government is funding a collaboration between the Telethon Kids Institute and Curtin University for a new study of COVID-19 in the Perth metropolitan area
    • Starting this weekend, researchers will ask people to volunteer to COVID-19 testing using new technology
    • This population sampling is expected to assist in tracking the scale of undetected COVID-19 in WA

    The McGowan Government has provided more than $130,000 to the Telethon Kids Institute to conduct the Perth COVID-19 Infection Study in conjunction with Curtin University.


    Beginning this Saturday (March 19), Telethon Kids Institute researchers will visit households on a random basis in a range of metropolitan Perth suburbs.


    Household members will be asked if they would like to do a COVID-19 test, using a new technology. Participation is voluntary.


    The study will be conducted over several weekends, with the aim of testing about 875 people in total during the project.


    Households in the targeted areas will soon receive a flyer in their letterbox with details about the study.


    The process takes about 30 minutes and will be conducted in a COVID-safe way. The test uses a simple, non-invasive saliva sample which people can collect themselves. The saliva samples are then processed using a relatively new technology called LAMP (loop mediated isothermal amplification) technology on the Sentinel machine.


    Perth company Avicena developed the Sentinel machine which incorporates LAMP technology with smart robotics, allowing test samples to be processed in bulk.


    As well as a saliva sample, participants will be asked questions about their age, type of work or study and vaccination status.


    Results from the research will be used to gain a picture of how much undetected COVID-19 infection is likely to be in the Perth community.


    The test is not yet approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration as a diagnostic test for individuals but can be used for screening purposes.


    Anyone who returns a positive result from the saliva sample taken during the study will be contacted to let them know they should take a rapid antigen test or get a PCR test to confirm their result.


    Comments attributed to Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:


    "We are very close to hitting the peak of COVID-19 cases in Western Australia, so now is the ideal time for this study to be conducted.


    "We have always suspected that there are more COVID-19 cases in the community than daily testing results show.


    "We know that some people who get COVID are asymptomatic; people who are feeling perfectly normal are probably not going to get tested unless they are required to under isolation rules.


    "Given Western Australia's high vaccination rates, this is not surprising.


    "This research will be another tool for us to better understand the spread of the virus."


    Comments attributed to Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson:


    "The McGowan Government continues to plan and respond proactively, as required, as we navigate the next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.


    "Avicena's Sentinel system is an award-winning Western Australian innovation and was provided funding from the McGowan Government to develop the prototype.


    "The Telethon Kids Institute is a world-leading medical research institute and their research plays a vital role in safeguarding the Western Australian community.


    "This infection survey, which is tapping into innovative, Western Australian medical technology, is putting our State at the forefront of managing COVID-19 in our community.


    "This is a Western Australian study, using WA tech - and putting WA in the global spotlight for important medical research."


    Health Minister's office - 6552 5900

    Medical Research Minister's office - 6552 5800