Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, claims that this country, unlike Germany, does not have the scale to undertake the testing required in the current coronavirus pandemic, and Public Health England (PHE) is being criticised for its lack of testing capacity. Here, Dr Valerie Bevan (Chair, British Society for Microbial Technology) attempts to put the situation in historical context, in light of her recent correspondence to The Guardian, and letters to The Daily Telegraph from Professor Brian Duerden (last Director of the PHLS) and retired biomedical scientist Michael Coles.
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, Beckman Coulter is developing assays to identify IgM and IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. Research has shown that after infection with SARS-CoV-2, viral antigens stimulate the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that can be detected with IgM and IgG tests. The assays will be designed for use on any of Beckman Coulter’s high-throughput Access family of immunoassay systems, including the Access 2 and DxI series, which can be found worldwide.
The University of Glasgow will host a major COVID-19 testing facility in Glasgow, in support of current UK and Scottish governments and NHS efforts against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. This is part of a series of measures to increase testing and response to the spread of the virus across the UK. It will be opened in collaboration with the Scottish government and industry experts from BioAscent Discovery and the University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit.
PCR Biosystems, the UK-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) expert, is continuing to scale-up operations to ensure the critical enzyme mix for COVID-19 tests remain available to the UK and global healthcare systems as demand for testing rises. To meet current and upcoming requirements and ensure supply chain security, PCR Biosystems has significantly increased – and will continue to increase – manufacture of qPCRBIO Probe 1-Step Go and all other critical reagents for rapid and sensitive RT-qPCR.
OXGENE and The Native Antigen Company have announced a collaboration to scale-up production of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) reagents by combining OXGENE’s proprietary Adenoviral Protein Machine Technology with The Native Antigen Company’s antigen development expertise. Together, OXGENE and The Native Antigen Company will aim to scale their antigen manufacturing capabilities to deliver high-purity, recombinant proteins for the development of diagnostics and vaccines.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on pathology services to test patient samples for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus alongside pre-existing respiratory virus panels. This extreme influx of samples quickly exhausted the capacity of existing systems in the microbiology and molecular pathology department at Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology (SNP) – part of the Sonic Healthcare Group – in Brisbane, Australia, creating a clear need for additional automated liquid-handling instruments.
The urgent global need for the components of testing kits and facilities to carry them out is obviously unprecedented, with every country facing challenges to ensure that supply can meet the huge demand from health services.
Cobra Biologics is working as part of a consortium led by The Jenner Institute, Oxford University, to develop, scale-up and produce the potential adenoviral vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCov-19 (ChAdOx1), for fast-tracked clinical trials for COVID-19. ChAdOx1 is one of five frontrunner vaccines in development around the world, and expected to be the UK’s first COVID-19 vaccine. The ChAdOx1 consortium also includes the University of Oxford Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility, the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), Advent Srl, Pall Life Sciences and Halix BV.
A game-changing point-of-care coronavirus test from global diagnostics company Randox Laboratories and leading technology manufacturer Bosch Healthcare Solutions will launch later in April. The Vivalytic Viral Respiratory Tract Infection (VRI) Array can identify SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and differentiate it from nine other respiratory infections with similar symptoms, including influenza and all known coronaviruses. This provides a more comprehensive respiratory screening which enables precise and informed treatment decisions to be made.
Cobra Biologics and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have been awarded €3 million emergency funding by Horizon 2020 for research and development, and phase I clinical trial testing of a DNA vaccine against COVID-19, as part of the OPENCORONA consortium to support global efforts tackling the pandemic. Partners in the consortium also include Karolinska University Hospital, Public Health Authority (FoHM), IGEA, Adlego AB and Giessen University.
Pro-Lab Diagnostics is engaged in the development, manufacture and supply of In vitro diagnostic kits, reagents and associated apparatus globally with its head office in Toronto, Canada. Its European division is situated on the Wirral in the north-west of England. The UK facility is now designated and identified as an essential/critical supply company to the NHS and all precautions and guidelines are in place for the wellbeing of its laboratory, office and administration staff.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, laboratories around the world are being asked to scale up their testing capacity rapidly. In response to this Cirdan has been configuring its ULTRA Laboratory Information System (LIS) to facilitate this increased testing demand. Links between ULTRA and instrument analysers, as well as links to external registries where COVID-19 test data need to be reported are being developed.
Mologic has initiated early validation of COVID-19 point-of-need diagnostic tests with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and St George’s Hospital, London. The availability of fast, reliable diagnostics for COVID-19 has been identified as one of the critical opportunities to support the control of the pandemic and ‘flatten the curve’ of cases worldwide.
CrowdfightCOVID19 is an initiative from the scientific community to put all available resources at the service of the fight against COVID-19. Commercial colleagues in Europe wish to ascertain if customers can help in this endeavour, or whether they are COVID-19 researchers who require help. Please click on this story for further details.
Mologic, a leading developer of lateral-flow and rapid diagnostic technologies, has been awarded around £1 million by the Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development (DFID), as part of the UK government’s £46 million international coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention and research funding package. The funding will be used by Mologic and global partners to develop a point-of-need diagnostic test for the virus, in addition to supporting the company to initiate research for novel vaccine candidates.
Designed for the specific identification and differentiation of the new coronavirus in clinical samples, the VIASURE SARS-CoV-2 Real-Time PCR Detection Kit is available now from Pro-Lab Diagnostics. Currently, there are two versions of the kit available: VS-NCO1 monoplex, which amplifies a fragment of the S gene of the virus; and VS-NCO2 multiplex, which amplifies and identifies fragments of the ORF1ab and N genes.
The Native Antigen Company, a leading supplier of reagents for research into vaccines and diagnostics for emerging and endemic infectious diseases, has announced the commercial introduction of its novel coronavirus antigens, derived from the COVID-19 strain.
A ground-breaking test for the potentially fatal COVID-19 strain of coronavirus is available at global health diagnostics company Randox Laboratories. The test, developed on Randox’s patented Biochip Technology, is as an enhanced multiplex array which includes tests for COVID-19 and nine other respiratory viruses that can display the same symptoms. The new enhanced biochip therefore allows clinicians to quickly and efficiently differentiate between potentially lethal and non-lethal infections.
A novel coronavirus diagnostic test developed by Public Health England (PHE) is being rolled out to laboratories across the UK. The increase in diagnostic capacity from one laboratory in London to 12 elsewhere over the coming weeks will accelerate the country’s testing capabilities.