COVID-19: Roundup 07 May

07 May 2020

07 May

Here is our weekly roundup on the latest research and scientific efforts against the coronavirus.


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Queen’s University Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast has received funding to develop a covid-19 rapid diagnostic test.

This study, in partnership with HiberGene Diagnostics Ltd, Medcaptain in China, and Italian Hospital IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, has been awarded 930,000 euros from EU H2020 to develop and bring to market a diagnostic test that can return results within an hour.

Professor Cliff Taggart, lead researcher from the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University said, ‘The local availability, speed and accuracy of the test will help inform public health preparedness and response in the ongoing pandemic.’

Read more here.



AbCellera has received a commitment of up to C$175.6 million from the Canadian government to continue their work to develop antibodies for potential use in drugs to treat covid-19 patients. In their efforts to identify the antibodies needed, AbCellera’s antibody discovery platform is being used to search blood samples of patients who have recovered from covid-19.

Honourable Nvadeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, believes that AbCellera has the infrastructure to continue finding a treatment and build Canada’s capability to move to phase 2.

Read more here.


As part of Ineos’s international response to tackle covid-19, it is building two new hand sanitiser plans in Arkansas and Pennsylvania in under 10 days.

Each new facility will produce 1 million bottles of hand sanitiser per month. The facility in Pennsylvania will be supplying hand sanitisers to hospitals across Ohio, New York and New Jersey.

Read more here.

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Pfizer and BioNTech

US trials of Pfizer and BioNTech’s covid-19 vaccine have begun as part of the mRNA vaccine development programme.

During the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program, the first US patients have been dosed with four different vaccine candidates, all representing a different combination of mRNA format and target antigen. The clinical trial will evaluate the safest and most effective candidate.

According to Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, ‘The short, less than four-month timeframe in which we’ve been able to move from pre-clinical studies to human testing is extraordinary and further demonstrates our commitment to dedicating our best-in-class resources, from the lab to manufacturing and beyond, in the battle against covid-19.’

Read more here.


Roche’s covid-19 antibody test has been approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Roche’s antibody test can assess whether a patient has gained immunity against covid-19, with a specificity greater than 99.8% and 100% sensitivity.

According to Roche, the company has already started shipping the new antibody tests to laboratories across the world, aiming to increase its production to the millions for countries accepting the CE mark and in the US under Emergency Use Authorisation.

Read more here.

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Universities of Nottingham

University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, UK, will collaborate with Scancell Holdings to develop a covid-19 vaccine.

Scientists at the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Research on Global Virus Infections have identified parts of the virus needed to generate an immune response. Scancell will use this information to design DNA-based vaccines.

A research facility at Nottingham Trent will then proceed to assess its capacity to trigger immune responses against covid-19.

According to Johnathon Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University, ‘A similar DNA vaccine has already been shown to be safe and effective in cancer patients and so should rapidly translate into the clinic for prevention of covid-19.’

 Read more here.

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Imperial College London

Imperial College London, UK, is leading a new coronavirus home testing programme. The programme will track how many people are infected across the UK and suggest how many people have been previously infected and recovered.

In the first part of Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-1) programme, 100,000 individuals will be requested to provide nose and throat swabs for testing.

REACT-2, the second part of the programme, will assess a range of antibody tests. The results will shed light on how far the infection has spread, and will be able to identify individuals who may be immune to the virus.

Paul Elliot, director of the programme at Imperial College London, said, ‘Community testing is a vital next step in ongoing efforts to mitigate the pandemic, but to be successful this must be based on robust scientific evidence. Through this important programme we will gather the critical knowledge base necessary to underpin community testing programmes and facilitate a greater understanding of the prevalence of covid-19 in the UK.’

Read more here.


New reagent fast-tracked

The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) has fast-tracked the development and production of a new biological reagent intended to be used in tests to confirm whether an individual has been infected with covid-19.

This reagent contains non-infectious genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, acting as a confirmatory sample to test for infection.

Dr Nicola Rose, Head of the Division of Virology at the NIBSC, said; ‘This reagent is a great example of the NIBSC rapidly responding to public health needs in the response to covid-19. The development of the research material is a prelude to the production of established standards and reference materials that laboratories can use in their own work on covid-19, and we will continue to make producing this material an absolute priority.’

Read more here.

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Keep up to date on the response from the chemical industry and the scientific community to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. SCI will be covering key coronavirus research and reporting news from trusted sources so that you have the coronavirus latest.

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