COVID-19: Manufacturers begin validation for 10 minute tests
Following UK government funding of US$1.2mn (March 6), Mologic Ltd. has begun the validation process of its point-of-need COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
Alongside global partners, Mologic has been building on its experience of developing a rapid test kit for Ebola, to develop a point-of-need hand held diagnostic test for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The availability of a fast and reliable diagnostic test for the virus has been marked as a critical opportunity to support in the control of the pandemic and curb the number of cases worldwide.
“Completion of the first prototypes is a significant step in Mologic’s development of a rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 and we are proud of our team’s achievement in reaching this point so quickly, while maintaining the most rigorous standards. Diagnostics are a critical weapon in the fight against this pandemic and, once ready, this test will enable affordable, more accurate and earlier diagnosis of infection, limiting the spread of the disease,” commented Professor Paul Davis, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Mologic.
As of March 25, the company has begun the validation process of the diagnostic test alongside the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and St Georges’ University London.
The early prototypes of antibody tests by Mologic has made it possible to begin the optimisation process, in which leading laboratories on each continent will evaluate and independently assess the performance of the prototypes.
While the assessment and optimisation will be expedited, Mologic highlights the importance of rigorous validation of all prototypes before it is made available for global use in response to the pandemic.
Those validating the technology following UK assessments include:
the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (Senegal)
La Jolla Institute for Immunology (United States)
the Wuhan Institute of Virology (China)
the University of Malaya (Malaysia)
the Institute for Health Science Research Germans Trias I Pujol (Spain)
the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Brazil)
Once complete the diagnostic device will allow users to test for exposure to the virus at home, in the community or at a clinic, with results ready in 10 minutes.
The device requires no special training, electricity or a laboratory to complete.
Working with the Institut Pasteur de Dakar and Senegal manufacturer, diaTROPiX, the partnership marks the first time the UK has jointly manufactured a diagnostic kit in Africa to ensure tests are available to settings with limited laboratory access.
In addition, Mologic will market the diagnostic test at a cost affordable for low-income settings to ensure affected companies have access to the kits during the pandemic.
“Until a vaccine is ready or a medicine is proven to be effective, we need to decentralise diagnostics to the community as quickly as possible. Properly assessing new tests during an epidemic is a critical and necessary step to ensuring access to the technology. Mologic’s prototypes will now be subject to international validation, with leading labs across the world,” added Dr Joe Fitchett, Medical Director, Mologic.
“We are extremely pleased to be working alongside Mologic and diaTROPiX on the evaluation and validation of rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19. These tests could be a game changer for diagnosis and follow-up of patients both in hospital and in the community, allowing us to detect cases early and isolate patients and their families rapidly,” commented Dr Emily Adams, Senior Lecturer in Diagnostics for Infectious Disease, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
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First Solar to Invest US$684mn in Indian Energy Sector
First Solar is about to set up a new photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. The 3.3GW factory will create 1,000 skilled jobs and is expected to launch its operations in Q3 of 2023. According to the company, India needs 25+ gigawatts of solar energy to be deployed each year for the next nine years. This means that many of First Solar’s Indian clients will jump at the chance to have access to the company’s advanced PV.
Said Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO: ‘India is an attractive market for First Solar not simply because our module technology is advantageous in its hot, humid climate. It’s an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy’.
A Bit of Background
First Solar is a leading global provider of photovoltaic systems. It uses advanced technology to generate clear, reliable energy around the world. And even though it’s headquartered in the US, the company has invested in storage facilities around the world. It displaced energy requirements for a desalination plant in Australia, launched a source of reliable energy in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE), and deployed over 4.5GW of energy across Europe with its First Solar modules.
The company is also known for its solar innovation, reporting that it sees gains in efficiency three times faster than multi-crystalline silicon technology. First Solar holds world records in thin-film cell conversion efficiency (22.1%) and module conversion efficiency (18.2%). Finally, it helps its partners develop, finance, design, construct, and operate PV power plants—which is exactly what we’re talking about.
How Will The Tamil Nadu Plant Work?
Tamil Nadu will use the same manufacturing template as First Solar’s new Ohio factory. According to the Times of India, the factory will combine skilled workers, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication, and IoT connectivity. In addition, its operations will adhere to First Solar’s Responsible Sourcing Solar Principles, produce modules with a 2.5x lower carbon footprint, and help India become energy-independent. Said Widmar: ‘Our advanced PV module will be made in India, for India’.
After all, we must mention that part of First Solar’s motivation in Tamil Nadu is to ensure that India doesn’t rely on Chinese solar. ‘India stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of state-subsidised global dominance of the crystalline silicon supply chain’, Widmar explained. ‘That’s precisely the kind of level playing field needed for non-Chinese solar manufacturers to compete on their own merits’.
According to First Solar, India’s model should be a template for like-minded nations. Widmar added: ‘We’re pleased to support the sustainable energy ambitions of a major US ally in the Asia-Pacific region—with American-designed solar technology’. To sum up: Indian solar power is yet the next development in the China-US trade war. Let the PV manufacturing begin.