Created: April 05, 2020 11:44 PM
ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) – A new test designed to help doctors fight the spread of coronavirus is ready to launch, and it’s being manufactured in Rochester.
New Jersey-based blood testing company Ortho Clinical Diagnostics announced it is preparing to release its own version of a COVID-19 blood antibody test.
News10NBC spoke to OCD’s Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Chockalingam “Palani” Palaniappan to break down the test and when it will be available.
The blood-based test allows researchers to look for antibodies, which would indicate if a person was exposed to the virus, and recovered from it. The tests are being manufactured at OCD’s “Ortho Global Center of Excellence for R&D” in Rochester.
As more evidence of asymptomatic people spreading the coronavirus is brought to light, Palaniappan says this test provides a possible breakthrough for epidemiologists to better determine who has had the virus, and better understand how it has spread.
“We could actually know who were all possibly exposed, and then we'll have become resistant to the virus, wouldn't that be good to know?" Palaniappan says.
The tests will run on machines that are present in more than 1,000 labs across the country. Using machines already in more than a thousand labs across the country, Palaniappan says about 150 tests can be processed within an hour.
According to the company, it followed guidelines established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus, and showed a ‘high-accuracy’ in tested coronavirus samples. Palaniappan says tests were ran on other virus samples prior to COVID-19.
According to STAT News, a similar round of tests are being introduced by the Centers for Disease Control.
The hope is this test would complement the initial test for the virus, and could be used to assist in vaccine research down the road.
“That kind of information is very helpful for a healthcare worker or anybody who is in the frontline,” Palaniappan says. “And possibly this means that people could start thinking about coming back, more to normalcy."
The plan is to distribute tests to heavily impacted areas like New York City within the next few weeks. The tests would primarily be administered for healthcare workers at first, before expanding into other groups. Palaniappan says the tests would then expand to other cities. He says the plant has the capability of producing millions of tests within the next few months.
"We feel that we can actually confidently scale this up to meet the global demand, now, for sure in the United States immediately," Palaniappan says.
Palaniappan says while the presence of the antibodies could be a sign of immunity, there is no 100 percent guarantee.
You can read the company’s release here.
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