Roche develops new COVID-19 antibody test

Roche has announced it is developing a new serology test to detect COVID-19 antibodies, with a planned launch date in early May.

Antibody testing is central to help identify people who have been infected by the virus, especially those who may have been infected but did not display symptoms.

Many countries are hoping that widespread antibody testing will allow them to ease lockdown restrictions for people who can be shown to have a certain level of immunity against the disease.

The Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoassay is an in vitro test, using human serum and plasma drawn from a blood sample, to detect antibodies and determine the body’s immune reaction to SARS-CoV-2. 

The test may be used in epidemiological research to help better understand the spread of the disease and may also be used together with molecular tests to aid in the diagnosis of suspected COVID-19 patients. 

Roche said it aims to have the antibody test available by early May in countries accepting the CE mark and is actively working with the FDA for an Emergency Use Authorisation. 

The company added that it is planning on an accelerated ramp up of monthly production to “high double-digit million” tests by June and will further scale up production “as fast as possible”.

“Every reliable test on the market serves its purpose for healthcare systems to help us overcome this pandemic,” Severin Schwan, CEO Roche Group, said. “Roche is collaborating closely with health authorities and ramping up production to ensure fast availability of the test globally.”

Earlier this month Roche announced it is offering free access to its mySugr Pro diabetes management app in the UK to relieve pressure on the NHS during the pandemic

Meanwhile the company is testing its Actemra to see if it can be repurposed to fight COVID-19 pneumonia, following independent research in China suggesting it may help relieve symptoms.

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