GenScript Biotech and the Diagnostics Development Hub (DxD) at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) alongside Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School have entered into an exclusive deal whereby they will both co-develop and manufacture the serological COVID-19 detection system, otherwise known as the cPass or surrogate virus neutralization tests (sVNT).
The first of its type detection system allows for the rapid identification and detection of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), these antibodies that are present in the serum of coronavirus patients are the reason for clearing the viral infection, without the use of live biological materials and a biocontainment facility.
Director of the Duke-NUS Emerging Infectious Diseases program – Professor Wang Linfa alongside her team came up with the idea for this research and invented the cPass COVID-19 detection system.Furthermore, the team competed the assay development and testing in Singapore.
Although several commercial COVID-19 lab-based antibody test kits are present in the market (Camtech Diagnostics’ COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Qualitative Screening Test, and Biolidics’ COVID-19 rapid test kits),the newly released detection system is the first able to measure functional NAbs.
Without the presence of a simple test kit, measuring NAbs needs the use of live virus, cells, complicated laboratory procedures and highly skilled operators that are usually less sensitive and need several days to acquire results. In addition to that, another benefit of the cPass COVID-19 detection system is that it can rapidly be conducted within the hour in most clinical labs, and also has a high throughput and fully automated testing after minimal adaption.
In order to bring the cPassdetection system to the market. DxD Hub went through the process of validating the kit with clinical samples, and developed the appropriate manufacturing protocols and quality control operations, and secured authorization from the Health Science Authority (HSA). The DxD Hub will also be making the pilot batch for use initially in Singapore hospitals. This know how will eventually be transferred to local biotech companies for scaled up production.
With the increased spread of coronavirus infections around the world, health authorities and governments are working together to find ways to increase testing as there has been a global demand for a COVID-19 detection system and test kits. Imperial College London has teamed with Intelligent Fingerprinting to develop a 10-minute corona fingerprint test.
ViroTact, a Dutch biotech startup has secured funding just recently for its portable test that can detect the corona virus within 30 seconds. Companies like Hims& Hers and Vault Health in the US are now selling FDA-authorized home corona virus tests via telehealth.
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.
WHO Academy Launch Idea Gathering Platform
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.
Pandemic Disrupts Routine Immunization Services
As the pandemic continues spreading, the coronavirus is now disrupting lifesaving immunization services around the globe, and putting millions of children at risk of diseases like measles, diphtheria, and polio. This warning comes jointly from WHO the World Health Organization, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and UNICEF. The warning came just before the Global Vaccine Summit is set to take place on June 4th, where leaders will unite in helping to maintain immunization programs and manage the impact of the pandemic in low income countries (LMICs).
Data collected by UNICEF, WHO, Gavi, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute indicate that the provisioning of routine immunization services is being substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and will impact approximately 80 million children under the age of 1.
Almost 53% of the 129 countries where the data was available have reported moderate-to-severe disruption in immunization services, or a total suspension of vaccination services during March and April 2020.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said that immunization is the most powerful disease prevention tool in the history of public health. Disruption to immunization services due to the pandemic threatens decades of progress against certain vaccine preventable diseases.
The reasons due to the disruption of immunization services vary. Some parents are hesitant to leave the home due to restrictions on movement, lack of information or because they are afraid of infection. Many health workers are unavailable due to restrictions on travel, lack of protective equipment or redeployment to COVID response duties.
Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi mentioned that more children are now protected against more vaccine diseases than ever before in history. However due to the pandemic, this progress is now under great threat, risking the resurface of diseases like polio and measles. “Not only will the maintenance of immunization services prevent more outbreaks, it will also ensure we have the necessary infrastructure for an eventual coronavirus vaccine,” Berkley affirms.
Transport delays of vaccines are not helping the situation. UNICEF has reported a significant delay in planned vaccine deliveries due to the enforced lockdown and the decline in commercial flights. To help alleviate the situation, UNICEF is appealing to governments, the airline industry, the private sector and others so that they free up freight space at an affordable cost for these necessary vaccines. UNICEF and Gavi recently signed an agreement that provides advanced funding to cover the increased freight cost for the delivery of vaccines.
In the upcoming week, WHO will issue new advice to countries regarding maintaining essential services throughout the pandemic, including tips and recommendations on how to provide the immunizations safely.
Several countries have temporarily suspended preventive mass vaccination campaigns against measles meningitis, cholera, typhoid, yellow fever and polio, due to the risk of transmission and the need to keep physical distancing enforced during the pandemic.
In particular, polio and measles vaccination campaigns have been hard hit with measles campaigns being suspended in 27 countries and polio campaigns being put on hold in 38 different countries. An expected minimum of 24 million people in 21 Gavi-supported lower income countries risk missing out on the vaccines against polio, measles, yellow fever, typhoid, cholera, rotavirus, meningitis A, HPV, and rubella due to the prolonged campaigns and the introduction of new vaccines.
Late in March, WHO recommended that countries temporarily suspend preventive campaigns, while they assess the risks and effective measures for reducing the virus transmission.
Since then, WHO have been monitoring the situation, and issued advice that aids countries in determining how and when to resume mass vaccination campaigns. The guide notes that countries will have to make specific risk assessments based on local dynamics of the virus transmission, health system capacities, and public health benefit of undergoing preventive response vaccination campaigns.
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