Bold new Covid-19 test in development in Victoria

A new Covid-19 test is being developed with funding from the Victorian government that makes bold claims about what it will be able to detect.

A finger prick test that does not detect a Covid-19 infection but rather a person’s immunity to the virus is being developed and partly funded by the Victorian government.

Victoria’s Innovation and Medical Research Minister Jaala Pulford claims the rapid Covid-19 NAB-Test could also “predict a person’s immunity to new and emerging variants of Covid-19” and could be used at scale for large groups.

The test is at the prototype stage.

Finger prick tests are typically used to measure things like blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.

The Covid-19 NAB-Test will attempt to show the level of immunity present in individuals in less than 20 minutes by measuring levels of neutralising antibodies to coronavirus.

“The test could be used to determine whether a person may need a booster shot by analysing their current level of immunity to the virus. The test doesn’t check for current infection,” a statement from Ms Pulford’s office said.

“Neutralising antibodies are a key measure of immunity to Covid-19 and are part of the body’s natural immune response that is triggered by either prior infection or vaccination against the virus.”

The Burnet Institute and Doherty Institute developed the test with a $500,000 grant as part of the Victorian government’s $31 million coronavirus research project.

Professor Dale Godfrey, from the immunology department at the Doherty Institute, said the test focused on antibodies.

“Other rapid tests don’t measure the important ‘neutralising antibodies’ that block virus infection,” he said.

“This is the advantage of the Covid-19 NAB-Test.”

It comes as 507 new locally transmitted cases of Covid were reported in Victoria on Sunday.

Premier Daniel Andrews is set to unveil the state road map out of lockdown later in the day.

Originally published as Covid-19 NAB test aims to detect a person’s immunity to virus and potential future variants

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