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Abbott Laboratories develop new serology test to fight COVID-19

Mounir Jamil

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Abbott Laboratories develop new serology test to fight COVID-19

Abbott Laboratories is an American multinational medical devices and healthcare company with headquarters in Abbott Park, Illinois, United States. As part of its latest offerings to the market, and in light of the current COVID-19 Pandemic, they have developed a new serology test that is directed at identifying individuals that are infected with the virus and who may have developed an immunity to it. Its most recent antibody test is made to detect the IgG antibody, which is similar to its first antibody test that received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) last month.

Roche, the Swiss diagnostics giant received the go-ahead earlier last week from the agency for its antibody test and they similarly plan on producing kits somewhere in the “high double-digit millions,” this month.

On Monday, Abbott Laboratories claimed that its latest SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay has the ability of 99.6%, translating to a very low possibility of false negatives, and a sensitivity of 100%, indicating improvements in not giving false negatives, especially in patients that have been tested 14 days after they first started showing symptoms. In comparison, Roche’s antibody test has the specificity of 99.8% and a sensitivity of 100%, also when used on samples that were taken 14 days after the confirmation of the infection.

BDI, another major company in the field, has launched similar tests however lacking the EUA designation but under an earlier FDA policy. Also, last week, the agency strengthened its requirements for COVID-19 antibody tests during questions about the accuracy and validity of some of the tests that are already present in the market that have not undergone an agency review.

Abbott Laboratories mentioned that regarding their latest tests, they are working with virology labs to validate the testing results and are installing an additional system that helps in aiding with large scale and reliable antibody testing worldwide.

TechMED

Tech Startups Rush to Develop Immunity Passports

Mounir Jamil

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Tech Startups Rush to Develop Immunity Passports

Tech start-ups are rushing to develop immunity passports. These are official certificates that are given to people that have recovered from COVID-19 or were asymptomatic before. The idea is that people link their identity to a coronavirus test result and then share their status with third parties such as employers, restaurants and airports.

That’s how the concept works in theory, however several questions arise in practice which has prompted some of the entrepreneurs behind immunity passports to address these issues in more detail.

Software engineers from FinTech firm TranferWire developed digital immunity passports that are currently being tested in Estonia. Co-founder and CEO Taavet Hinrikus claims they won’t be publically launched until there is scientific consensus on COVID-19 immunity.

Hinrikus added that an agreement about immunity should be universal. There are agreements in the scientific community that antibodies for COVID-19 exist, however there is no agreement about their parameters.

Other companies are working on the tech for immunity passports like British startups Onfido and Yoti, and Germany’s IDNow. However, many scientists still aren’t convinced that these passports will work in practice.

Dr. Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading doesn’t believe that immunity passports are the way forward. Acknowledging they are a great idea, he doesn’t believe they will stand up to the scrutiny.

WHO has urged governments not to enforce handing out of immunity passports, whether physical or digital, due to doubting which antibody tests confirm immunity.

Clarke added we are way off in knowing exactly what makes somebody immune. Worrying about antibodies is like stressing a minor detail while ignoring the whole. He mentioned that antibodies are not the be all and end all of immunity and can actually take a few days to a couple of weeks to fully develop.

Some experts criticize that immunity certificates are unethical as they give certain privileges to people that have contracted COVID-19 and even encourage people to have the disease so they can obtain immune status. Clarke mentions that immunity passports could potentially lead people to falsifying their own antibody tests.

The Ada Lovelace Institute, an artificial intelligence research group reported that immunity passports pose very high risks in terms of social cohesion, exclusion, discrimination, and vulnerability.

Harsh Sinha, TransferWire’s team CTO acknowledges that immunity passports are not a perfect solution, and are more an iterative approach that can evolve with the science of the coronavirus immunity. Sinha adds that whether we have data and information on this immunity or not, states in the US or countries in Europe and Asia are reopening. Without data it’s a bigger risk than if you have been tested already and if you can control who viewed your test results and have a system that allows the disclosure of that information. Sinha mentioned that they are ready to move in if it turns out that antibody tests do not confer immunity.

Onfido whose software works by verifying identities by matching a selfie with a government-issued ID card, is working with Sidehide, a German hotel booking app on integrating technology to have guests present a unique QR code that validates they hold an immunity certificate.

Onfido has held talks with the US government about introducing immunity passports and were approached by the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee for submitting a proposal regarding the use of tech to fight global disease outbreaks.

Husayn Kassai Onfido co-founder and CEO commented that they are in consultations with other governments to create a seamless process.

However, there is still growing fear that these passes infringe on people’s privacy, an issue that becomes more serious given the involvement of sensitive health data. Clarke mentioned that any blood test is a medical record, and is confidential information.

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TechMED

What Covid-19 means for future medical technology

Adnan Kayyali

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What Covid-19 means for future medical technology

Future medical technology is nowhere near floatation tubes or de-aging machines. What the world is seeing however, is a shift towards the seeds of technologies unearthed by the ongoing pandemic that could act as seeds for more radical innovations later on.

As some countries attempt to ease certain areas of the lockdown to pump some life blood into society for a while, everyone is once again looking to doctors and medical researchers for solutions. A second – possibly more mild – wave of the virus, however, is not out of the question. In fact, it might be inevitable in some areas, which means that these are sensitive times. Governments are then looking to tackle possible outbreaks of Covid-19 and any future ordeals preemptively having seen the consequences of unpreparedness.

The ongoing virus has spurred innovation in areas such as communication technology and green energy, and stimulated a more sincere awareness of public health and safety by individuals at large.

Future medical technology will be riding the telecom train, as improvements such as 5G are made for wireless communication. Faster more available connectivity will enable advancements to be made with medical devices, such as wearable and implantable technologies, sensors, and remote robotic surgery. Wearers and users of such devices will then require not only a sturdy connection, but its interconnectedness gives it further uses, in that of data collection and analysis.

With the spread of IoT products, the incorporation of cloud, and the advent of AI, came the vast amounts of data that are constantly being collected. Future medical technology will be interwoven with data webs.

This data can help doctors and researchers make valuable, actionable insights derived from millions of personality and clinical devices.

The wearer won’t get an ad for a mobile game playing into their hearing aid hopefully, but the devices are made to be able to do vital, possibly lifesaving actions.

Examples include administering insulin on schedule or with the push of a button on a smartphone, or predicting a heart failure by analyzing symptoms. Monitoring elderly or infants and keeping healthcare workers and relatives informed.

Such products can greatly increase the quality of life for thousands, and would decrease the cost of healthcare as it stands due to an increase in preventive care and preemptive treatment.

With the evolution and adaptability of human viruses, it is clear that we too must evolve alongside human technology. This makes not only collecting real-time data and using it to take action necessary, but it must be replicable and scalable too. With technologies like 3D printing becoming more popular, this can be achieved. Printing not only surgical tools and patient specific prosthetics and models, but tissues and organoids as well.

As medical technology develops, many questions are raised concerning reliability and security of such advancements. These are questions that will be answered as time goes on.

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TechMED

WHO Academy Launch Idea Gathering Platform

Mounir Jamil

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WHO Academy[1] 3.6.2020

WHO Academy, the esteemed learning center scheduled to launch early next year, is set to amplify learning for impact through several digital and face to face courses, reaching millions of healthcare workers and others worldwide via the latest technologies and advancements in learning science.

As a fundamental part of their efforts, WHO Academy is working with skilled experts and practitioners to develop and implement a global learning strategy that will shape the future of WHO’s methods to training and learning for attaining health goals and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals

As part of WHO Academy’s wider consultation process with professionals in health, education and learning, and digital technologies, the WHO Academy would like to invite everyone with an interest in this topic to join their endeavor by sharing their ideas to the WHO’s learning strategy.

In accordance with that objective, WHO Academy have established a call for ideas in such a way so that anyone can share their big ideas on how to enhance and better the quality and impact of training and lifelong learning techniques in health.

WHO Academy have made the submission form available in 3 languages, English French and Spanish. The responses received will be used to develop their global learning strategy and will guarantee that those involved in health and social care systems have the right opportunities to strengthen the skill sets they need to save lives and improve outcomes in their respective communities.

 

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