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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IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.