EUROIMMUN AG (Lübeck, Germany), a manufacturer of reagents and instruments for medical laboratory diagnostics, has developed serological tests for detection of antibodies against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The two ELISAs enable detection of specific IgA and IgG against the virus in the blood of infected patients.
In December 2019 the WHO in China was first informed about a cluster of pneumonia cases of unclear origin in Wuhan in Hubei province. A large market in the town selling meat and domestic animals was soon identified as the origin of the unknown lung infection, which has since spread around the world.
On the 7th of January 2020, Chinese scientists identified a new coronavirus that is closely related to SARS coronavirus as the causative pathogen. The virus was given the preliminary name 2019-nCoV, but has since been renamed as SARS-CoV-2. On the 11th February 2020, the lung disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 was given the name COVID-19.
Coronaviruses constitute a large family of viruses which can infect people and animals, for example birds and mammals. Coronavirus infection can lead to a simple cold, but also to severe or even fatal disease. In the outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 / 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012 / 2013, hundreds of people died. For COVID-19 the WHO has reported over 75,700 infections and 2,129 deaths as of 20th February 2020. Cases have been reported in 26 different countries and regions worldwide. At the end of January the WHO declared the new infectious disease a global health emergency.
Reliable test systems are needed to identify infections with SARS-CoV-2 and to help control the spreading wave of infections.
EUROIMMUN started to develop tests shortly after the outbreak became known. ”Only a few days after the genetic sequence of the new virus was published on the 10th January, we decided to develop test systems for diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2 infections“, reported Dr. Wolfgang Schlumberger, Chairman of the Board of EUROIMMUN AG. The Anti-SARS-CoV-2 ELISAs are now available, and will shortly receive a CE mark. A real-time RT-PCR test for the direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 is also under development and will be completed soon.
”Antibody detection is an ideal supplement to direct detection of the virus. Moreover, the ELISA can be used to gather epidemiological data,” explained Katja Steinhagen, Head of the Division Immunobiochemistry Infection Diagnostics at EUROIMMUN AG.