Irish-Developed Kit Confirms COVID-19 Infection in 15 Minutes

AlphaBiolabs has created a COVID-19 testing kit that companies can use to test their employees.

Two new engineering solutions are gaining publicity in the effort to test as many patients as possible for the COVID-19 virus. AlphaBiolabs based in Warrington, England, has created a kit for companies that want to test their employees. The firm has traditionally done DNA testing and transferred this technology to the BioMedomics Rapid IgM-IgG Combined Antibody Test for COVID-19. The test searches for the immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies that indicate recent contact with the virus, and immunoglobulin G (IgM) antibodies, which when present in a sample can also show a later infection stage.

A finger prick collects a blood sample that is tested in the sample well. When a buffer is placed in the sample well, the technician waits 15 minutes and can then read the results. Results are shown with horizontal lines, indicating a one high line negative outcome, a high-low IgM positive, a high-mid IgG positive, or a high-mid-low positive for both IgM and IgG. Verification testing was performed on 397 samples of infected blood with an 88.66 percent sensitivity, and on 128 nonafflicted samples with a 90.63 percent specificity. The testing kits are currently on preorder, and the site currently indicates that the £150 plus VAT tests will begin shipping on March 31, 2020. Although AlphaBiolabs has traditionally worked with companies looking to screen their workforces, these kits also note that they can be purchased by individuals. The company does not indicate how many tests can be produced or how many can be purchased.

Assay Genie from Ireland developed the COVID-19 qPCR assay kit that is designed to test large numbers of people. The kit uses a drop of blood from the patient and colloidal gold immunochromatography to “detect the virus and antibodies in human blood, serum, and plasma.” Curiously, in different places the test method is either called lateral blood analysis or Nasopharyngeal, Oropharyngeal & Sputum swabbed samples. The Assay Kit contains 96 tests and the company’s website shows that preorders of the kit began on March 12 but does not indicate a shipping date. These kits have a Positive Percentage Agreement of 98 percent, a Negative Percentage Agreement of 100 percent, and an Overall Percentages Agreement of 100 percent, according to the product page. A technical manual and data sheet are also available for download on the product page.

These are two great examples of companies taking their current competencies and moving them into new sectors to meet the needs of society. Engineers need to be able to see the utility of what they’re doing in different applications, especially when we can serve the greater good by modifying products and services to meet new specifications.