Rapid Covid test Burnet collaboration

A new finger prick test that can quickly assess a person’s level of neutralising antibodies as a measure of immunity to COVID-19 is being developed by Burnet Institute in collaboration with Doherty Institute, with funding support from the Victorian Government.

In less than 20 minutes, the COVID-19 NAb-Test can determine the level of neutralising antibodies to COVID-19 to indicate a person’s immunity to new and emerging variants of COVID-19 and can be used at scale for large groups.

The test could be used to determine whether a person may need a booster shot by analysing their current level of immunity to the virus. The test doesn’t check for current infection.

Neutralising antibodies are a key measure of immunity to COVID-19 and are part of the body’s natural immune response that is triggered by either prior infection or vaccination against the virus.

Funded through a $500,000 grant as part of the State Government’s $31 million investment into coronavirus research, world-leading experts from the Burnet Institute and Doherty Institute developed the test inside 12 months.

“This is a great collaboration between Burnet and Doherty that makes the most of our respective areas of expertise, but we could not have made such rapid progress without this funding from the Victorian Government,” Associate Professor David Anderson, Chief Scientific Officer, Burnet Diagnostics Initiative, said.

While the test is still at the prototype stage, the Burnet Institute and Doherty Institute are in commercial discussions to progress the COVID-19 NAb-Test so it can be used to benefit Victorians as soon as possible.

Professor Dale Godfrey, Theme Leader, Immunology at the Doherty Institute, said: “Other rapid tests don’t measure the important ‘neutralising antibodies’ that block virus infection. This is the advantage of the COVID-19 NAb-Test and what makes it a valuable addition to our COVID-19 diagnostic toolkit.”

The Victorian Government has invested more than $580 million in medical research in the past year, including $400 million for a new Australian Institute of Infectious Diseases.

“Building confidence in our immunity against coronavirus will become increasingly important as Victoria and Australia open up,” Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, The Hon. Jaala Pulford said.

“This work is testament to the world-class research skills and expertise we have in Victoria and will give us better understanding of the coronavirus and help in our fight against it.”

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