Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has launched a surveillance system that can detect SARS-CoV-2 in ambient air in indoor spaces, providing a potential complement to individual testing and other COVID-19 safety protocols. The system, called the Aerosolsense Sampler, works by capturing a sample of the ambient air on a cartridge using Thermo Fisher’s collection substrate.
The FDA is becoming more amenable to screening and surveillance tests for the COVID-19 pandemic, although the distinction between test uses is not always clear. Toby Lowe, the associate director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health (OIR), said on the agency’s weekly town hall that the difference between surveillance and screening tests is whether the individuals who are screened can act on the information thus derived.
By mid-January 2021, the U.K., South Africa and Brazil had confirmed that “variants of concern” were driving massive surges in COVID-19 cases in their countries. Once alerted, other nations found these troubling strains rapidly multiplying within their populations as well. At the time, the world had reported 90 million cases, creating abundant opportunities for the coronavirus to mutate. Of those cases, the virus in just 360,000 had been sequenced – and nearly all of them from just a handful of countries.
Swift Biosciences Inc. released an S gene panel for SARS-CoV-2 that covers 100% of the gene even with minimal viral titers. The S gene controls the spike protein, which enables the virus to bind to cells and affects transmissibility, and has accumulated multiple mutations in the concerning variants recently discovered in the U.K., South Africa, Brazil, Denmark and the U.S. The panel is expected to enable rapid scaling of surveillance efforts of the new strains and can be run by any lab using the Illumina system.
PERTH, Australia – Australian public health laboratories are collaborating to sequence the virus genomes of all positive COVID-19 tests in Australia to track the virus using genomics across the country. The Communicable Disease Genomics Network (CDGN) and Illumina Inc. will track COVID-19 by using next-generation genomic sequencing technology.
The Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) has worked diligently to stand up the National Evaluation System for health Technologies (NEST) as a functioning program, and the first iteration, known of course as NEST 1.0, is now up and running.
“In any crisis, leaders have two equally important responsibilities: solve the immediate problem and keep it from happening again... The first point is more pressing, but the second has crucial long-term consequences.” So wrote Bill Gates in a February editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine about COVID-19, which “has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about.”