SureScreen and Mologic trial COVID-19 tests as UK set to buy 3.5million

The UK Government is set to buy 3.5million coronavirus tests as British firms SureScreen and Mologic trial their rapid COVID-19 testing devices.

On Thursday (26 March) British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that 3.5million revolutionary COVID-19 tests had been ordered, although it was later added that the deal was “in principle”.

UK government to order 3.5 million units

Several different companies have been approached by the UK government over contributing to the 3.5 million COVID-19 tests needed. SureScreen Diagnostics and Mologic are two of the companies at the forefront and both are currently in the process of trialling their tests.

SureScreen’s rapid COVID-19 test

SureScreen has told the MailOnline that it expected a decision on whether its £6 COVID-19 finger-prick tests had passed the Public Health England (PHE) validation process in the coming days.

The Derby-based company announced it has developed a finger-prick COVID-19 test which gives a result within 10 minutes and is 98 per cent accurate. The tests are reportedly already being used by private companies in a number of European countries.

The SureScreen Diagnostics lateral flow immunoassay test works similarly to a pregnancy test. There are Embedded antibodies into the test strip which bind to a COVID-19 specific biomarker, Immunoglobulin G (IgG), and another infection biomarker, Immunoglobulin M (IgM). When a sample (blood, serum or plasma) is added to one end of the test, it flows along the test strip and interacts with these antibodies.

It is thought that, if the patient has COVID-19, the biomarkers in their blood will bind to the antibodies on the test strip, leaving a visible test line. If the patient doesn’t have COVID-19, no biomarkers should be present in their blood and no test line will be visible. The test shows separate test lines for IgG and IgM and only one needs to be visible for a positive result.

The rapid SureScreen coronavirus test uses the presence of IgM as an indicator of early COVID-19 infection. IgG is a more specialised antibody that specifically binds to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The presence of IgG is an indicator of later-stage infection, normally a week or longer after infection. Despite that the IgM is a general type antibody, its presence, combined with IgG and/or the common symptoms of COVID-19, would also indicate infection with the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus. The test is indicated for primary and secondary diagnosis of COVID-19.

Mologic’s rapid COVID-19 test

Mologic, an innovative UK developer of lateral flow and rapid diagnostic technologies, announced on Thursday that it has commenced early validation of COVID-19 point-of-need diagnostic tests with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and St Georges’ University London.

The rapid development of Mologic’s test has been facilitated by a circa £1 million funding from UK Aid, as part of the £46 million the UK government has announced to date for international coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention and research.

Early prototypes of antibody tests by Mologic have allowed an optimisation process to begin. Various prototypes will be tested in leading laboratories across the world to independently examine their performance, the company announced.

After the assessments in the UK, the test will be sent out to global validation partners including the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal, La Jolla Institute for Immunology in the United States, the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, the University of Malaya in Malaysia, the Institute for Health Science Research Germans Trias I Pujol (IGTP) in Spain, and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Brazil.

Once ready, the device will allow users to test for exposure to the virus at home, in the community, or in the clinic, providing a result within 10 minutes, without the need for special training, electricity or a laboratory.

The device is designed to enable home testing for the COVID-19 disease, without the need for special equipment, energy or laboratory, with results shown in 10 min

Mologic is working in partnership with the Institut Pasteur de Dakar to validate the COVID-19 test and manufacture at diaTROPiX, a new facility in Senegal, West Africa.