Oxford scientists develop COVID-19 antigen test that can diagnose in 5 minutes - Scientists at the University of Oxford have developed a rapid COVID-19 test capable of identifying the coronavirus in less than five minutes, Reuters reports.

The kit is an antigen test that is able to detect the coronavirus with great precision, as the Test leaders assure.

The university expects to begin product development of the test device in early 2021 and have an approved device available for distribution six months later.

Although this means that the test will not arrive until next year, it will be available for the winter of 2021 and experts assure that this type of measures will continue to be necessary, since society will continue to live with the virus.

The high cost of PCRs and the prospects that the coronavirus is here to stay have led governments, pharmacists and healthcare professionals to seek more simplified diagnostic methods that reduce costs, avoid system saturation and get results faster.

While PCR tests collect the genetic material of the coronavirus, antigen tests record the surface proteins of the virus. They are easier to detect, making tests faster and cheaper, and potentially available for use at home.

So far, doubts about its accuracy and sensitivity have limited the mass adoption of this type of tests and PCRs remain the diagnostic test recommended by health authorities to confirm or rule out the presence of coronavirus.

Oxford scientists develop COVID-19 antigen test

However, the urgency of countries to control outbreaks-especially after the start of the school year and the arrival of the flu season— and the development of better antigen tests are driving their demand worldwide.

In fact, recently the community of Madrid began to perform antigen tests to diagnose the coronavirus quickly thanks to the purchase of 2 million tests of this type from the Abbott company.

Their use is controversial, since antigen tests need a higher viral load to detect the presence of the virus, so they are less effective when the infection is more advanced.

However, some recent studies are starting to point out that subjecting people to this type of less sensitive but faster tests about twice a week is more effective at controlling the spread of the virus than performing PCR once every fortnight, says Nature.

Countries such as India or the Philippines are already using antigen tests massively, as well as, for example, Italian airports. However, the official recommendation is that the results are always confirmed with a PCR test when possible.

Oxford scientists develop COVID-19 antigen test

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Coronavirus vaccines will arrive later than expected: the obstacles that have delayed each pharmacist's plans

The race to find a coronavirus vaccine becomes more urgent than ever as outbreaks again confine countries as they struggle to keep the economy afloat.

More than 190 candidates for the coronavirus vaccine are at some stage of testing, according to the World Health Organization. Of these, 42 are being evaluated in clinical studies, and 10 have reached the final stage of clinical trials.

Some vaccines had aroused great optimism-seen with skepticism by some experts early on-by ensuring that their candidates could be ready to receive an emergency clearance before the end of the year and begin to be distributed to at-risk groups.

However, deadlines have been called into question as pharmacists have struggled to complete their trials, encountered unexpected side effects and seen regulatory bodies toughen up criteria to avoid accusations of yielding to political pressure.

In fact, Guido Rasi, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency assures that the first coronavirus vaccines will arrive in the spring of next year. "It is very difficult, almost impossible, to have the vaccine by 2020. If all goes well, in the first months of 2021 there could be three vaccines approved by the EMA, " he says” according to the country.

These are the companies that expected to market their vaccine before the end of 2020 and have encountered unexpected challenges.

1 Modern

  • Results known so far: the company has made public the results of the first phase of the human trial, which reveal that it is safe and generates an immune response through antibodies.
  • Price of doses: the company has not yet put an official figure to its vaccine, but it has advanced that it values to market it with a price while the pandemic lasts and raise it afterwards. Biotech could be considering selling the dose for between 25 and 30 dollars (between 21 and 25 euros), as sources familiar with the matter have assured the Financial Times. Considering that two doses would be needed, that puts the final price of the modern vaccine between 50 and 60 dollars (between 42.6 and 51 euros).

2 AstraZeneca

  • Results known so far: the first data reveal that it induces immunity without serious side effects.
  • Price of doses: the economic details of the EC agreement with AstraZeneca have not transcended. The company has assured that it will sell at cost price and that the manufacture of each dose costs only a couple of dollars. According to statements collected by Reuters, the Italian health minister would have encrypted at 2,5 euros the cost of each dose.

3 Pfizer

  • Results known so far: the companies have reported that their solution has proven to be tolerated by the participants and less than 20% of the people who received it presented with mild to moderate fever.
  • Dose Price: the companies also do not give up profits and would have closed an agreement with the United States that places the price per dose at 19,50 dollars (about 16,5 euros), according to the Financial Times.

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