A New Method to Test for Covid-19 Antibodies

Scientists have recently invented a paper based blood test that can test for the coronavirus in under 10 minutes. The test can be conducted with a drop of blood from a fingertip, and can detect Covid-19 antibodies without the help of a trained medical professional.

The innovation comes from the Antimicrobial Resistance and collaborators from all over the globe. As the world slowly picks back up to its regular pace, it is important that we find more efficient and larger scale ways to test for coronavirus neutralizing antibodies. The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) better defines these neutralizing antibodies, or NAbs, on how they work and how they are tested for.

“​​As part of a body’s natural immune response, NAbs are generated by either exposure to the virus or a vaccine. For effective prevention of viral infections, NAbs must be generated in sufficient quantities. The number of NAbs present in individuals indicate if they possess protective immunity to the virus and their probability of experiencing severe outcomes should they be infected. NAb testing can determine whether vaccinated individuals should be considered for booster shots for additional protection against the virus,” says SMART.

Covid-19 tests in the past have typically been conducted at hospitals and specialized diagnostic laboratories due to the dependence on equipment and knowledge to detect these NAbs. Detection of NAbs is done through handling of live virus, which requires “a facility with rigorous biosafety and containment precautions, skilled personnel, and two to four days of processing time.” The difficulty of this test has posed a problem for virus testing. Because of this, it has been difficult to issue NAbs testing on a large, possibly global, scale. Researchers and SMART and many other research institutes have felt that need for a more efficient way to test for NAbs, which would significantly improve our fight against Covid-19.

“With the gradual opening up of borders, economies, and society, having the right test and information will be crucial to not only plan for this future, but also ensure that it can be done safely without hampering current efforts to curb the spread of the virus,” says Megan McBee, MIT research affiliate and scientific director at SMART AMR.

The new NAbs testing method opens up a world for new virus testing, and it also improves the quality of our testing currently. The efficiency and ease of the new testing method will help in our society’s battle against the coronavirus.