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August 13, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – UK competition authority to investigate PCR tests’ pricing and reliability – DiaCarta wins CE/IVD marking for SARS-CoV-2 variant detection test

By Chris Lo

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has started an investigation into the price of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for Covid-19. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care had raised concerns regarding the cost and reliability of PCR travel tests as well as the quality of the service offered by PCR test firms. The CMA will ask if there are any structural pricing and reliability issues in the PCR test market, whether PCR providers are breaching obligations under consumer law and what immediate actions the government could take.

DiaCarta has received CE/IVD marking for its QuantiVirus SARS-CoV-2 Variant Detection Test, allowing commercialisation in the European Union and other global markets. The multiplex qPCR-based test is designed to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants. The company is also seeking US regulatory approval for the test’s emergency use.

A team of researchers led by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia has created new infrared-based technology to identify patients who are at risk of severe Covid-19. The technology was developed in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, using blood samples from Covid-19 patients in Mumbai, India. The levels of various chemical groups in a sample are measured by infrared spectra. QIMR leveraged artificial intelligence to create an algorithm that can detect chemical groups related to patients who went on to develop severe illness. A small pilot study in India showed the test had 85% accuracy in predicting severe disease in Covid-19 patients.

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