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Taiwan research team develops rapid COVID-19 antibody test kit

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A researcher performs a demonstration of the rapid tester during a press event Thursday. 

A researcher performs a demonstration of the rapid tester during a press event Thursday.  (CNA photo)

A research team at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in northern Taiwan announced Thursday (Feb. 18) that it has developed a rapid test that can identify how well protected a vaccinated person is against COVID-19.

The test kit analyzes the concentration of neutralizing antibodies in a vaccinated person, Cheng Chao-min (鄭兆珉), a professor at NTHU's Institute of Biomedical Engineering, said at a press event on Thursday.

According to the professor, the rapid COVID-19 antibody detection kit, which works on any mRNA-based vaccine, uses fingerstick serology testing to detect antibodies related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Compared to traditional testing methods, which can take about 24 hours to show the effectiveness of a vaccine, NTHU's rapid test kit provides results in just 15 minutes, he explained.

With a process similar to that of a blood-glucose meter, individuals can now take the test 7-10 days after receiving their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, Cheng said.

If two lines appear on the tester, it means the vaccine has produced sufficient neutralizing antibodies in a vaccinated person, while one line means the opposite, he added.

Unfortunately, as with past experiences with other types of vaccines, Cheng said there is still no definitive answer as to the level of protection as every person can react differently to a vaccine.

Generally speaking, the NTHU professor said if the amount of neutralizing antibodies produced by a vaccine in a vaccinated person is shown to rise by 30 percent, the vaccine can be viewed as "effective," while anything above 80 percent is regarded as "highly effective."

The rapid test kit, which consists of antibody testing strips, can also work with a dedicated machine decoder to provide data on the concentration of neutralizing antibodies in a blood sample, Cheng said.


Updated : 2021-03-04 09:00 GMT+08:00