Covid-19 tests from Thermo Fisher and Healthineers evolve

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Earlier this year Thermo Fisher Scientific found itself, quite by chance, with a Covid-19 test able to distinguish the Alpha variant, at that time the main variant of concern. Now it has gained FDA emergency use authorisation for two new tests designed – deliberately, this time – to ensure that future mutations will not escape detection. The TaqPath Covid-19 Fast PCR Combo Kit 2.0 and the TaqPath Covid-19 RNase P Combo Kit 2.0 both target eight different genes across three regions of the coronavirus, hopefully ensuring that its presence can still be detected regardless of future mutations. The latter is a fairly standard PCR test, using nasal and nasopharyngeal samples, while the Fast PCR combo kit detects the virus in saliva samples. But neither test specifies which variant a patient carries. Attacking the virus from a different angle, Siemens Healthineers today released a new algorithm for its Atellica diagnostics instruments designed to help predict a patient’s chances of developing severe Covid-19. In this it is similar to Memed’s Covid-19 Severity assay, though it assesses different biomarkers. Unlike Memed’s test, Healthineers’ algorithm is intended for investigational or educational use only, and ought not be used to guide patient care.

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