Dublin-listed pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan has launched its Covid-19 antibody testing service, supporting the reopening of economies as coronavirus pandemic restrictions ease.
The Hvivo Covid Clear test, which is expected to be used to carry out 3,000 antibody tests per day in the coming weeks, uses Quotient's Mosaiq Covid-19 antibody microarray machine.
An antibody test can detect if a person has had coronavirus before and has since recovered. The Hvivo test requires a blood sample, with results available within 48 hours after testing at the company’s London lab.
The test will be available to people either directly through their employer or through channel partners including GP networks, nursing services, health clinics and private hospitals, which can take the blood samples.
London-based Hvivo has Europe’s only commercial 24-bed quarantine clinic and on-site virology laboratory.
"Antibody testing is crucial for guidance on immunity, development of vaccinations and potential revaccinations, as well as helping to answer outstanding epidemiological questions about the spread of the virus," said Franz Walt, chief executive of Quotient, which developed the Mosaiq antibody microarray machine.
Open Orphan is the result of executive chairman Cathal Friel reversing his pharma services business of the same name into Dublin-listed drug clinical trials manager Venn Life Sciences last year. It later acquired Hvivo.
Although the use of antibody tests has been put forward as a way to reopen economies more safely, questions have been raised over their use to establish the level of immunity people have from Covid-19. At present it is not known how long immunity to the disease lasts – if it does at all.
There has also been debate about the effectiveness of tests already on the market and the possible impact of their use on public health strategy. Last month the National Public Health Emergency Team subgroup on diagnostic testing approaches discussed concerns about rapid tests. Minutes of the group's meeting showed they also considered "the role of and the limitations of serology" [scientific study or diagnostic examination of blood serum] and said "the reliability of serological tests" remained an issue.