Rapid Bio, a Skolkovo Foundation (VEB.RF) resident, has developed and registered its own Covid-19 express test jointly with Avivir company and the first of its kind in Russia. The test is designed to detect virus-neutralizing antibodies following the Covid-19 vaccination. Rapid Bio states that the test can determine immunity in a patient within fifteen minutes and with 96% accuracy.

Rapid Bio express test. Photo: Sk.ru

The Lancet states that 8.4% of people do not generate virus-neutralizing antibodies. According to Rapid Bio, its new test (a.k.a. “Xpress-VAK SARS-CoV-2-LFT”) can reveal whether or not the vaccine has triggered an immune response, when a second vaccine will be needed, and whether or not an additional dose of, say, the Sputnik-V vaccine is required. According to the company, the advantage of this express test is not just the ability to determine the level of immunity in the population, but also the ability to create a forecast.

Semyon Pokatskii, Rapid Bio’s co-founder, stated: “We have created the simplest and most accessible test that can aid in deciding on vaccination without specialist knowledge. The express test will be useful both before vaccination with Sputnik-V and other vaccines, as well as after to monitor the formation of a stable immune response. The kit also detects immune IgG antibodies that appear following the disease.”

This is based on the idea that when the body’s immune response has occurred, a certain number of B cells will continue to produce antibodies against the recent disease undergone by a patient; this can go on for weeks, months, and sometimes years and most antibody tests can detect this. Antibody tests are by and large only used for checking whether or not a patient has had the disease by looking for immune reactions to a pathogen rather than the pathogen itself. However, the US Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Symbiotica Covid-19 Self-Collected Antibody Test System, the first antibody test in the US to be authorized for use with home collected dried blood spot samples. The FDA announcement states that "the test is intended to aid in identifying individuals with an adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV-2, indicating recent or prior infection. The Covid-19 Self-Controlled Antibody Test System should not be used to diagnose or exclude acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. At this time, it is unknown how long antibodies persist following infection and if the presence of antibodies confers protective immunity."

The development of such home tests in Russia, the US, and other countries will almost certainly help lighten the burden on healthcare systems, which are already overstretched because of the pandemic.

Fyodor Kurkin, the CEO of Avivir, stated that “specialists and epidemiologists predict that Covid-19 will be with us long term and with time it will take on a seasonal character like flu and ARVI. Thus, vaccination will remain relevant for a long time, and express detection for post-vaccine immunity will help evaluate the success of the current vaccination campaign. It will also improve understanding of the layout of subsequent Covid-19 immunization programs due to the simplicity of reaching a large portion of the population and the high-reliability of the results.”