A new “fast and accurate” coronavirus antibody test has been developed by scientists in Edinburgh, although the company fears the NHS could miss out amid interest in Europe for the machines.
Researchers for blood-screening company Quotient have developed a new test for whether people are immune to Covid-19 by spotting whether a person has developed antibodies to the disease.
Each serological screening machine has capacity for up to 3,000 tests a day and produces results in 35 minutes with 99.8% accuracy, the firm said.
The company behind the new tests says it has 12 screening machines available, with a further 20 expected to be ready by the end of the year, but it has already had talks with interested parties across Europe.
However, with the new test developed by scientists in Edinburgh, the company is calling for the UK and Scottish governments to begin talks so that the NHS might be able to benefit.
While the UK Government says it has laboratory capability to test for coronavirus immunity, it is currently being used for survey testing of existing blood samples and the capacity is not known.
It is also attempting to develop home testing kits, rather than requiring analysis in laboratories, but so far these have proved unreliable.
The tests aim to establish whether a person has developed antibodies to the Covid-19 virus, usually after being infected by the disease, and is therefore immune from being infected again.
On Friday, Quotient received European regulatory approval for the MosaiQ serological screening machines with 100% sensitivity and 99.8% specificity, meaning there is a low chance of a misread or “false positive”.
We now want to make sure that we can help as many people as possible as quickly as possibleFranz Walt, Quotient chief executive
Chief executive Franz Walt – who was managing director of a laboratory that developed the first diagnostic test for Sars in 2003 – said: “We are truly proud to have developed such a fast and accurate test.
“This is an outstanding performance by our teams in both Edinburgh and Switzerland.
“We now want to make sure that we can help as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
“We have strong roots in the UK and want to speak to ministers there so MosaiQ can be used in the amazing national effort to tackle Coronavirus and relaunch the economy.
“We realise ministers and the NHS are incredibly busy but are keen to talk given the strong interest from across Europe in the product.”
Ed Farrell, chief operating officer at the Edinburgh office, added: “We’re incredibly proud of all our work here in Scotland and Switzerland.
“We’ve got such a rich history here and we hope we can now make a difference at this challenging time.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Health Protection Scotland, with key partners, explore all options around new antibody tests as they become available on the market.
“The Scottish Government is working closely with the UK Government to ensure that everyone is able to access new antibody tests when they become available.
“It is essential that any new tests are reliable, and time is needed to undertake rigorous evaluation so that there is confidence that tests are accurate.”