Rapid test capable of detecting new variants of Covid-19

Avacta Group says its AffiDX SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen lateral flow test detects the dominant new variants of the coronavirus – known as the B117, or “Kent”, variant – and the D614G variant, as well as the original strain.

The listed life sciences business, based in Wetherby, says it is now aiming for full clinical validation and CE marking of its test.

It follows news over the weekend that Covid-19 test kits will be made available free of charge to small businesses as well as larger companies.

All businesses in England, including those with fewer than 50 employees, will be able to sign up to the Government’s free Covid-19 workplace testing programme.

Tests in big companies are already under way, but as part of the roadmap out of lockdown restrictions, businesses of all sizes can now register online to order free lateral flow tests for employees.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Regular workplace testing is a vital part of our route back to normal life, which is why I’m very pleased that we’re now expanding our offer of free workplace testing to businesses of all sizes, including SMEs.”

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, like most viruses, mutates over time into slightly different variants. Some of these variants are more infectious, and therefore more rapidly transmissible, and have the potential to become dominant strains.

Early on in the pandemic a variant referred to as D614G appeared, which rapidly became the dominant strain globally.

The B117 variant, which was first observed in Kent, is prevalent in the UK, has been found in more than 50 countries and, according to Professor Sharon Peacock – Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at Cambridge University – is likely to become the next dominant strain globally.

Dr Alastair Smith, chief executive of Avacta Group, said: “We are pleased to confirm that Avacta’s rapid antigen test detects the B117 strain, an important variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and one which is especially prevalent in the UK.

“We have also shown that our test detects the D614G variant, the current dominant global strain.

“Our next key milestone is full clinical validation and CE marking of our lateral flow antigen test which we anticipate will be around the end of this quarter and I look forward to updating the market when that milestone is achieved.”