AbstractMass testing is fundamental to face the pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 discovered at the end of 2019. To this aim, it is necessary to establish reliable, fast and cheap tools to detect viral particles in biological material so to identify the people capable to spread the infection. We demonstrate that a colorimetric biosensor based on gold nanoparticle (AuNP) interaction induced by SARS-CoV-2 lends itself as an outstanding tool for detecting viral particles in nasal and throat swabs. The extinction spectrum of a colloidal solution of multiple viral-target gold nanoparticles – AuNPs functionalized with antibodies targeting three surface proteins of SARS-CoV-2 (spike, envelope and membrane) – is redshifted in few minutes when mixed to a solution containing the viral particle. The optical density of the mixed solution measured at 560 nm was compared to the threshold cycle (Ct) of a Real Time-PCR (gold standard for detecting the presence of viruses) finding that the colorimetric method is able to detect very low viral load with a detection limit approaching that of RT-PCR. Since the method is sensitive to the infecting viral particle rather than to its RNA, the achievements reported here open new perspective not only in the context of the current and possible future pandemics, but also in microbiology as the biosensor proves itself to be a powerful though simple tool for measuring the viral particle concentration.