New rapid 90-minute COVID-19 test shown to be highly accurate

Agencies
September 18, 2020

London, Sept 18: Researchers have created a 90-minute high speed COVID-19 test which does not require a laboratory and can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone with high accuracy.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet Microbe, revealed that the Lab-in-Cartridge rapid testing device, which can be performed at a patient's bedside, was shown to have over 94 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity,

It means that it had a high level of accuracy and produced very few false negatives and no false positives.

To perform the test, a paediatric-sized nose swab from a patient is inserted into the device, which then looks for traces of genetic material belonging to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

A result is available within 90 minutes, compared to conventional COVID-19 testing which delivers a result in 24 hours.

"These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient's bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing," said study researcher Graham Cooke from the Kings College London in the UK.

According to the study, the device was used on 280 NHS staff members with suspected COVID-19, 15 patients in accident & emergency department with suspected COVID-19, and 91 hospital in-patients.

The samples from all individuals in the study were analysed on both the rapid-testing device, called the COVIDNudge test, and standard hospital laboratory equipment - and then the results compared.

The research team assessed sensitivity and specificity.

Sensitivity is a measure of how well a test gives a positive result for people who have disease, and is an indication of how likely a test will produce false negative results.

Specificity, on the other hand, is a measure of a test's ability to give a negative result for people who don't have the disease, and is an indication of the likelihood of false positive results.

The percentage of those found to be positive for COVID-19 was 18 per cent.

The results showed 67 samples tested positive on the COVID Nudge test, compared with 71 positive results against a range of standard laboratory machines, which represents the value of 94 per cent sensitivity.

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Agencies
October 28,2020

Washington, Oct 28: Drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have agreed to provide 200 million doses of their potential COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX Facility, a collaboration designed to give countries around the world equal access to coronavirus vaccines.

The Sanofi-GSK vaccine candidate is in early stage trials, with results expected in early December. The drugmakers said Wednesday that they plan to begin phase three trial by the end of the year and request regulatory approval of the vaccine in the first half of 2021.

The facility is part of COVAX, a coalition of governments, health organisations, businesses and charities working to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Thomas Triomphe, head of Sanofi's vaccine unit, said: To address a global health crisis of this magnitude, it takes unique partnerships. The commitment we are announcing today for the COVAX Facility can help us together stand a better chance of bringing the pandemic under control.

Almost 44 million people have been confirmed to be infected with the virus worldwide and 1.16 million of them have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Experts say the true toll of the pandemic is much greater than that, due to limited testing, missed mild cases and concealment of cases by some governments.

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Agencies
October 28,2020

An analysis of more than 80 studies reporting complications experienced by COVID-19 patients has revealed that about one-third of them have abnormalities in the frontal lobe of the brain, findings which shed light on the neurological symptoms of the disease.

The review of studies, published in Seizure: European Journal of Epilepsy, focused on abnormalities detected using electroencephalogram (EEG) scans, which are used to evaluate the electrical activity in the brain.

"We found more than 600 patients that were affected in this way. Before, when we saw this in small groups we weren't sure if this was just a coincidence, but now we can confidently say there is a connection," said Zulfi Haneef, assistant professor of neurology at Baylor College of Medicine in the US.

The scientists explained that patients are recommended an EEG test when they have a slowed reaction to stimuli, followed by seizure-like events, speech issues, confusion, or an inability to wake up after sedation.

From the review of studies, the researchers said the most common findings from the EEG were slowing or abnormal electrical discharge, mostly in the frontal lobe of the patients.

They said some of the EEG alterations found in COVID-19 patients may indicate damage to the brain that might not be repaired after recovering from the disease.

Since the brain cannot regenerate, Haneef cautioned that any damage to the organ will more than likely be permanent.

"We know that the most likely entry point for the virus is the nose, so there seems to be a connection between the part of the brain that is located directly next to that entry point," he said.

"Another interesting observation was that the average age of those affected was 61, one-third were female and two-thirds were males. This suggests that brain involvement in COVID-19 could be more common in older males," Haneef added.

However, the scientists believe more studies are needed to validate the conclusions drawn in the review research.

According to Haneef, the virus may not be directly causing the abnormal EEG readings in the brain.

He said alterations in oxygen intake, heart problems related to COVID-19, or other side effects may also be involved.

"These findings tell us that we need to try EEG on a wider range of patients, as well as other types of brain imaging, such as MRI or CT scans, that will give us a closer look at the frontal lobe," Haneef said.

"A lot of people think they will get the illness, get well and everything will go back to normal, but these findings tell us that there might be long-term issues, which is something we have suspected and now we are finding more evidence to back that up," he added.

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Agencies
October 24,2020

Antibodies against the novel coronavirus follow a classic pattern with a rapid increase within the first three weeks after symptoms, and detectable up to seven months post contracting the disease, according to a new study which assessed 300 patients infected with the virus and 198 post-COVID-19 volunteers.

According to the research, published in the European Journal of Immunology, the participants had antibodies with confirmed neutralisation activity for up to six months post infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The scientists, led by Marc Veldhoen from Instituto de Medicina Molecular (IMM) in Portugal, monitored the antibody levels of over 300 COVID-19 hospital patients and healthcare workers, 2500 university staff, and 198 post-COVID volunteers.

They setup an in-house sensitive specific and versatile COVID-19 serology test.

The study revealed that 90 per cent of subjects have detectable antibodies up to seven months post contracting COVID-19.

It also found that age was not a confounding factor in levels of antibodies produced, but disease severity is.

"Our immune system recognises the virus SARS-CoV-2 as harmful and produces antibodies in response to it, which helps to fight the virus," Voldhoen said.

"The results of this six months cross-sectional study show a classic pattern with a rapid increase of antibody levels within the first three weeks after COVID-19 symptoms and, as expected, a reduction to intermediate levels thereafter," he added.

Based on the findings, the scientists said men produce more antibodies on average than women, "but levels equilibrate during the resolution phase and are similar between the sexes in the months after SARS-CoV-2 infection".

In the acute phase of the immune response, the researchers observed higher antibody levels in subjects with more severe disease.

They said age is not a confounding factor for the production of antibodies since no significant differences were observed between age groups.

While there was a reduction in the levels of antibodies over time, the team found that there was "robust neutralisation activity" for up to the seventh month post-infection in a large proportion of previously virus-positive screened subjects.

"Our work provides detailed information for the assays used, facilitating further and longitudinal analysis of protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2," Veldhoen said.

"Importantly, it highlights a continued level of circulating neutralising antibodies in most people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2," he added.

The researchers believe the next months will be critical to evaluate the robustness of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and to find clues for questions such as the duration of circulating antibodies and the impact of reinfection.

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