The University of Oxford and Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, Mass, have joined forces to increase the university’s capacity to deliver covid-19 testing data. 

The new rapid testing laboratory and jointly developed Thermo Scientific Omnipath Combi SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISA (also available in the United States under an FDA emergency use authorization) detects and quantifies antibodies against the coronavirus and increases the University of Oxford’s testing capacity to up to 50,000 tests per day.

“The collaboration is one of a number of projects that we’ve been codeveloping with Thermo Fisher and is particularly important because it secures manufacturing and testing capacity that is important for the UK in the next phase of the pandemic,” says Richard Cornall, DPhil, professor of clinical medicine and head of the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

Oxford researchers are already using the new fully automated testing platform to provide weekly UK-wide data for the Office of National Statistics as part of the national Covid-19 Infection Survey. In addition, the equipment further enhances Oxford’s capacity to quantify the response to vaccines accurately and on a large scale as part of our ongoing clinical trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine to assess vaccine performance.

“Using this test within the Covid-19 Infection Survey will allow us to answer vital questions about the role of previous infection, and varying levels of antibody response to previous infection, in protecting people from getting infected again in the future, as we follow individuals over the course of a year, repeatedly testing them for both virus and antibodies,” says Sarah Walker, PhD, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford and chief investigator of the national Covid-19 Infection Survey.

The Thermo Scientific Omnipath Combi SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISA is designed to run on an open instrument platform (subject to the necessary regulatory approvals and clearances), reporting a quantitative anti-Spike ELISA, which will be a measure of IgG antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein of the novel coronavirus to identify previous infection. The determination of antibody status aids in the diagnosis and surveillance of the disease during the acute and recovery stages of infection.

“Our ongoing partnership with Oxford University is key to enabling rapid scaling of novel diagnostics as we expand our covid-19 response. Combining the academic research capabilities of world recognized scientists at Oxford with our UK-based development and manufacturing facility in Dartford, Kent, has expanded our serology portfolio to assist in the epidemiology of covid-19,” says Mark Stevenson, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Having quantitative data on neutralizing antibodies will enable better understanding of the immune response following exposure to the covid-19 virus and support monitoring of the effectiveness of vaccines as they become available.”

For more information, visit Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Featured image: Historic buildings at the University of Oxford in England.