A rapid point-of-care test for the detection of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) to SARS-CoV-2 has been developed by researchers from the Interdisciplinary Antimicrobial Resistance Research Group of the Singapore-MIT Research and Technology Alliance ( SMART).
This simple test, which only requires a drop of blood from the fingertip, can be performed in 10 minutes without the need for a laboratory or specially trained personnel.
As part of the body’s natural immune response, NAbs are generated by exposure to the virus or a vaccine. For effective prevention of viral infections, NAbs must be generated in sufficient quantities . The number of NAbs present in individuals indicates whether they possess protective immunity against the virus and their likelihood of experiencing severe outcomes should they become infected.
NAb testing can determine if vaccinated individuals should be considered for booster shots for additional protection against the virus.
Despite the availability of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, detection of SARS-CoV-2 NAbs is still generally performed in hospitals and specialized diagnostic laboratories . Currently, NAb’s are commonly detected by virus neutralization tests (VNTs), which require the handling of live viruses, a facility with rigorous biosafety and containment precautions, trained personnel, and two to four days of processing time.
Therefore, these tests are not feasible for testing and surveillance of large populations due to the lengthy process that can put pressure on existing laboratory capacities. The development of a more efficient means of testing allows immediate testing at the point of care and massive monitoring of events or workplaces, specific locations, high-traffic points, and critical entry points, such as immigration checkpoints.