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Quick Test for COVID-19 Being Studied in Finland

Quick Test for COVID-19 Being Studied in Finland
Prototype of Quick Test for COVID-19 Being Studied in Finland

Among the research for a vaccine to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus claimed by about 30 countries, Finland informed of its progressing stage of quick test for COVID-19 devices to identify the deadly virus. This has been reported by Mr. Gianfranco Nitti, correspondent for the daily Finnish “La Rondine” and member of the Foreign Media Associatio, Rome. The report states:

Making rapid and reliable tests to identify this pestilence of our millennium in its initial phase is the commitment of laboratories, scientists and research centers all over the world. This is what was proposed in Finland at the VTT, the State Research, Development and Innovation Center.

With over 2,000 employees, including a large number of scientists and researchers, it promotes sustainable growth and faces the greatest global challenges of our time to transform them into growth opportunities, helping society and companies to grow through technological innovations. Founded in 1942, it boasts nearly 80 years of experience in high-level research and scientific results.

Team of MeVac researchers

And it was precisely at the VTT that work began on a new type of test based on the detection of viral antigens for the COVID-19 virus. The goal of the rapid test is to provide healthcare professionals with an accurate, rapid and resource-efficient method for early detection of coronavirus infections through a quick test for COVID-19.

The development of the rapid test is carried out by VTT together with MeVac – Meilahti research center on the vaccine. The project is also actively seeking Finnish companies to join the cooperation.

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The rapid test method is based on the detection of viral antigens in nasopharyngeal samples and will allow for the diagnosis of COVID-19 at an early stage of the disease. The test is designed to be performed by healthcare professionals – at least in its first phase. However, results will be returned significantly faster than existing tests, within 15 minutes or less.

Prototype of tool for rapid diagnosis

The new quick test for COVID-19 would also be significantly cheaper than current test methods. Antibody development has already started at the VTT and early versions of the test are expected in the fall of 2020.

“As the situation with the epidemic is worsening internationally, we have started looking for solutions within our area of excellence. We have experience in the development and production of antibodies, as well as previous experience in the design of diagnostic tests. It was an easy decision for us to start working on the COVID-19 antibody, “said Dr Leena Hakalahti, leader of the VTT biosensor research team.

Research by HUS Helsinki, the university hospital, plays an important role in the development of antibodies and the samples used in the research were taken from patients who had coronavirus infection.

The project is conducted in close collaboration with research teams led by the virology professor at the University of Helsinki, Olli Vapalahti and the director of the MeVac Vaccine Research Center, professor of infectious disease at the same university, Anu Kantele.

“As research progresses, we will explore the possibility of using developed antibodies not only for testing but also for the treatment of coronavirus disease,” says Professor Vapalahti.

VTT has started research to develop new antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus antigens with internal funding, but the project now carefully seeks additional funding and partners for rapid test development of this quick test for COVID-19. The production of the tests and their analysis equipment could be carried out in Finland by VTT and Finnish companies and, in addition to meeting internal needs, could be sold internationally.

“Increasing the ability to perform a test plays a key role in monitoring the progress of the epidemic, but current test methods require a lot of time and resources that limit capacity.

The purpose of the rapid test is to allow the growth of test capacity and ensure the availability of tests even while the epidemic is ongoing, “comments the vice president of the research area, Dr. Jussi Paakkari of the VTT.

Work on the rapid test now focuses specifically on COVID-19, but once this quick test for COVID-19  technology is defined, the same development process could be quickly applied to diagnose other viruses as well.

Diagnostics and digital health are the main areas of expertise of VTT with about 80 people working on related topics in Finland in the centers of in Oulu, Espoo, Tampere and Kuopio. VTT also has extensive experience in designing tailor-made diagnostic tools for various diseases.

VTT’s technological portfolio includes everything needed to develop disposable diagnostic tools and systems; the institution is able to combine expertise on antibodies with the series production of test strips and accurate data analysis.


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Mario Masciullo - Special to eTN

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