A quick test kit to determine a persons immunity against COVID-19 and its variants

A team of scientists from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore,and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has developed a quick test kit that can tell if a person has immunity against COVID-19 and its variants, based on the antibodies detected in a blood sample.

Different from ART test kits — which look for the presence of viral proteins produced during a COVID-19 infection to determine if a person is infected — 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.

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.

The findings were published in the scientific journal Microbiology Spectrum by the joint team led by SMART’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) and NTU’s School of Biological Sciences, in collaboration with Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) and National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The work is funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme. It is also supported by Singapore’s National Medical Research Council (NMRC), under its COVID-19 Research Fund, and National Health Innovation Centre (NHIC), under its COVID-19 Gap funding grant.

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