Gold is more than a hedge against inflation: it is also a vital material in many kinds of rapid COVID tests.
The precious metal’s unique scientific properties allow scientists to employ it in highly creative ways that complement traditional molecular testing methods.
Gold’s Medicinal Value
Tiny particles of gold have always been used as indicators in lateral flow assays (LFAs), which are a type of paper-based diagnostic tool that confirms the presence of a particular biomarker. Pregnancy tests are the most common type of LFA, but they can be used to diagnose a variety of illnesses and conditions. For example, in 2018, over 412 million malaria-detecting LFAs were used worldwide.
LFAs have been employed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to spot antibody responses in subjects. They are vital not only for detecting illness but for tracking individuals who had been infected, as LFAs do not need to identify molecules of the disease itself, only the presence of disease-specific antibodies.
As COVID ramped up throughout the summer of 2020, traditional molecular tests for the illness could not turn results with enough alacrity. Demands for testing grew high, particularly as some countries flirted with reopening measures following their initial waves of the deadly disease.
A molecular test requires a trained technician to collect samples and send those samples to a specialized lab for analysis. That process provides accurate results but can take time, especially when the labs become inundated with tests to process. Non-molecular solutions tended to be less accurate, until a gold-based test was found to have a 98.6% accuracy rate during clinical trials in the UK.
Gold-based antigen tests, which use gold nano-particles to quickly assess samples, helped ease the burden of COVID testing across the world.
Gold on the Bleeding Edge
Beyond LFAs and antigen tests, gold is also a key component in a brand new type of diagnostic that uses CRISPR nuclei to seek out specific nucleic acids in a sample indicative of COVID, combined with gold non-particles, to generate readouts on a rapid test strip.
Investors tend to think of silver as the precious metal helping to usher in the future of medicine, but the COVID-19 crisis has been a reminder that gold is also a vital component in creating a better tomorrow.
Investors looking to add gold to their portfolio or play higher gold demand can consider gold equities. The Sprott Gold Miners ETF (SGDM) offers active exposure to gold and silver miners, while the Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF (SGDJ) tracks junior gold miners.
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