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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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S’PORE SCIENTISTS DEVELOPED TEST KIT THAT DETECTS COVID IMMUNITY IN JUST 10 MINS

A team of scientists from Singapore have developed a test kit that is able to detect a person’s immunity to Covid-19 in just 10 minutes.

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The test kit will help indicate whether a person needs to get their vaccine booster jab quickly with just a simple blood sample.

The remarkable test kit was developed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) which is MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore.

it works by detecting the SARS-COV-2 antibodies in blood samples, also detects variants like Delta and Omicron, and helps to tell whether a person needs to get a booster shot based on the level of antibodies in their body.

Snippets from SMART’s press release

this rapid point-of-care test kit is a serology test that measures antibodies made by the patient. It requires a drop of blood and takes just 10 minutes to show results, as compared to the 24 to 72 hours required for conventional laboratory testing.

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The test kit detects the levels of neutralising antibodies against SARS-COV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, and its variants such as Delta and Omicron, and can be easily adapted for new variants of concern and other diseases in the future.

Using a paper-based assay that is coated with chemicals that bind to antibodies in the blood sample, the test kit is low-cost, fast and has up to 93 per cent accuracy. It paves the way for personalised vaccination strategies, where people are only given vaccinations and booster shots when necessary, depending on their variance in antibody levels and immune response.

Having an accurate and rapid serology test can enable governments and healthcare organisations to effectively manage limited vaccine resources, and address vaccine hesitancy, particularly concerning multiple booster doses.

a clinical study by the joint research team has shown that the protection offered by currently available vaccines steadily declines over three months, with varying degrees of decline across individuals. The study showed that after three months of a booster shot, the neutralising antibody (NAb) response against wildtype and Delta still remained high at medians of 91.8 per cent, while medians against Beta and Gamma had dropped to 82.7 and for Omicron, a large drop to 70.7 per cent, down from 92.9 per cent.

The emergence of novel variants with much higher transmissibility than the wild-type virus – such as Delta and Omicron – has exacerbated the issue of using mRNA vaccines developed based on the wildtype virus to boost immunity, especially when some current vaccines are showing reduced protection against these novel variants of concern (VoC).

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With a drop of finger prick blood, the test kit can evaluate an individual’s neutralising antibody level against a specific COVID-19 variant within 10 minutes, making this an efficient, low-cost, and easy-to-use tool that will enable large-scale testing and can be widely deployed anywhere as part of a personalised vaccination strategy.

The test reveals the individual’s level of neutralising antibodies, which can then inform a person when a booster should be taken, and how cautious they should be about potential transmission before it is taken.

It can be administered by a layperson without medical training and does not require any specialised laboratory equipment, paving the way for large-scale testing of vulnerable subsets of the population such as the elderly.

Images source: NTU via SMART.mit.edu

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