Bedford based lab, Mologic, has been awarded £1 million by UK government to develop rapid diagnostic test for coronavirus (COVID-19), as part of the government’s £46 million prevention and research funding package to fight the disease.
Mologic, which is at the Bedford Technology Park in Thurleigh, invented the home pregnancy test, the basis of which helped them also develop a rapid test kit for Ebola.
Their experience in this field will now help them create a hand-held diagnostics device for coronavirus.
The device will mean health officials can test for the virus at home or in the community, providing results in 10 minutes, without the need for electricity or a laboratory.
Rapidly identifying people who have the virus means they can be quarantined and gain access to necessary care more quickly.
“As seen with the COVID-19 outbreak, viruses can quickly transmit between populations, however, our knowledge to tackle this threat has also grown exponentially,” said Professor Paul Davis, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Mologic.
“For rapid epidemic preparedness and response, we need to develop a platform that is readily modified according to a novel pathogen, as we are demonstrating through our accelerated programmes for Ebola and COVID-19.”
As well as helping diagnose the virus, Mologic is also researching a vaccine.
The announcement of the funding from The Wellcome Trust was made as Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the lab today.
He was there to see the work Bedford scientists are carrying out as part of the UK’s efforts to fight the spread of the virus.
The Prime Minister said: “The investment in UK science will, in time, deliver a vaccine – some would say a year, perhaps around that scale – but also to help us have rapid test kits.
“Keeping the British people safe is my number one priority, and that’s why I’ve set out our four-part plan to contain, delay, mitigate and research coronavirus.”
UK cases on the rise
Meanwhile, the government says the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has now reached 163, a jump of 48 since Thursday (5 March).
An elderly man at Milton Keynes Hospital is also thought to have died from complications after contracting coronavirus. He is said believed to have had underlying health conditions.
Tests are now being carried out to determine if he had the virus. If it is found he had, it will be the second coronavirus related death in the UK.
22,000 people in the UK have been tested so far.
How to prevent the spread of coronavirus
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is a 99.6% survival rate of contracting coronavirus. However, its infection rate is high and so more people are likely to contract it.
Those at the highest risk are the elderly and/or those with underlying health conditions.
The key message is that good personal hygiene is the best weapon in fighting the virus.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using hot water and soap
- If you have some, use hand sanitiser
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue or crook of your arm. If you cough or sneeze into or near your hand, wash them straight away
- Avoid touching your face or coming into contact with those who are unwell
- If you suspect you may have coronavirus, do not visit your GP, call 111 for further advice