Ethos unveils SARS-CoV-2 test to detect emerging mutations

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Ethos Laboratories has launched a new molecular test that can detect key virus strains of SARS-CoV-2, including the UK (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (P.1) variants.

Estimates attribute 40% of new infections in some areas of the US to these variants, making precise detection vital for ongoing public health strategies.

At present, gene-sequencing technologies are used to carry out genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants. However, these technologies are not suitable for high-throughput testing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately ten days are needed to sequence a sample and add the findings to public databases.

There exists a vital need for high-throughput technologies which can precisely detect known or existing variants.

The Ethos Laboratories Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization-Time Of Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry method can analyse up to 15,000 samples a day, with the results delivered in about six hours.

The new high-throughput test offering from Ethos covers three variants which are classified as variants of concern by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The company noted that this classification is only allocated when there is enough evidence that the variant in question shows higher transmissibility.

The classification is also assigned when a variant induces more severe disease, lowers the neutralisation capacity of antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, or lowers the effectiveness of treatments, vaccines or diagnostic detection accuracy.

Ethos research and development chief scientific officer Joshua Gunn said: “We hope to provide insight into variant frequency on a large scale to support ongoing national surveillance efforts led by the CDC and its SPHERES consortium.

“As we continue to apply selective pressure on this virus through global vaccination efforts, identification and rapid detection of novel variants will be critical to ongoing public health efforts.”

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