The Amazon Biotechnology Center (CBA) announced that it is working on a national version of the COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits. The new test will be produced with national inputs and will have a higher detection rate than imported kits.
“With each new country, the virus mutates and adapts. The diagnostic kits produced with imported antibodies and antigens may have low detection sensitivity in Brazil since they are not adapted to our viral reality, so the need to produce a kit with national supplies to meet the specific and growing Brazilian demand “, said Fábio Calderaro, CBA manager.
According to Calderaro, the production technique with national materials and antigens may be distributed to different production centers, which would be enough to supply the minimum national demand determined by the Ministry of Health, which is 30 thousand tests per day. The measure, however, requires the approval of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), and, according to the manager, the goal can only be reached in 4 months, after authorization by the agency.
Calderaro also said that the new detection kit – developed with antigens from Brazilians who were infected by the disease – is more effective and more sensitive to the virus. “With each new country, the virus mutates and adapts. The diagnostic kits produced with imported antibodies and antigens may have low detection sensitivity in Brazil since they are not adapted to our viral reality ”.
To date, Brazil uses seventeen different brands of COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits, all authorized by Anvisa. “All [the kit brands] use antibodies and other inputs imported, mostly from China. So we are dependent on the foreign market, which currently also demands a lot of the same inputs due to the pandemic crisis ”, pointed out Calderaro.
The national SARS-COV-2 virus detection kit will be similar to what is already used for diagnosing HIV and dengue. The patient uses a disposable tape, where a blood or saliva sample is deposited. The sample undergoes a chemical reaction, and the indication of the presence or absence of the virus comes a few minutes later. According to the doctor in biotechnology and researcher Diogo Castro, the leader of the study, much of the test project is already ready. “We already have the platform for the production of antibodies and antigens consolidated and we are working to insert them in the rapid test tape and make it available to society,” he said.
According to Calderaro, the mass production of rapid diagnostic kits in the state of Amazonas may be used in the future as a pole for mass production of the product, but the diagnosis of different diseases. “The same factory adopted by the CBA for COVID-19 could be used for the production of other antibodies and tests for the diagnosis of other diseases of regional and national importance,” he said.