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September 21, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – OraSure gets $205m contract for InteliSwab rapid test – Penn researchers create antigen test to identify small viral loads

By Chloe Kent

OraSure Technologies has received a $205m procurement contract from the US Defense Logistics Agency for its over-the-counter (OTC) InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test. As per the contract, which will run from October this year through September next year, the company will provide the rapid test to up to 25,000 sites across the country. InteliSwab is designed to allow self-collection of a sample from the lower nostrils and delivers results in less than 30 minutes. It has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in point-of-care, prescription home and OTC settings in the US.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a rapid antigen test that can identify small loads of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The sensitivity of the test is reportedly similar to that of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, the current gold standard in the diagnostic industry. The Penn test uses smartphone camera photographs to measure the size and number of tiny, gas-filled bubbles in a chemical reaction from a nasal swab. When evaluated using clinical nasal swabs from 372 patients, the test detected 97% of positive swabs and 97% of negative swabs versus PCR techniques.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative has awarded a $13.3m contract to the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to boost Covid-19 testing capacity. The university’s diagnostic laboratory can process up to 150,000 Covid-19 tests daily using SwabSeq, a sequencing technology that UCLA developed. The technology can pool thousands of saliva specimens and delivers individual test results within 24 hours. SwabSeq is considered faster and less expensive compared with the PCR test, with kits already available in vending machines on the UCLA campus for free self-testing.

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