Keele joins major programme to help develop antibody tests to track level of Covid-19 infection in the community

Keele University has joined a key national programme to evaluate pioneering diagnostic tests for the coronavirus which will help determine how many people have been infected with the Covid-19 virus.

Keele is supporting the second part of the programme called REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-2), led by Imperial College London, alongside a small number of additional specialist partners. New diagnostic tests will be trialed using frontline workers in a temporary testing centre based on the Keele campus.

The study will help evaluate novel ways of detecting Covid-19 antigens and antibodies and assess how well these tests can be adapted to a home testing environment without assistance from a healthcare professional. All samples will be sent to Imperial College London for analysis.

The data generated from the study, which is due to run from mid-June, will help guide the Government’s planning on testing on a national scale.

Keele’s Clinical Trials Unit and technical staff from the Faculty of Natural Sciences are supporting the programme in collaboration with the West Midlands Clinical Research Network.

react Antibodies are made by the immune system to fight infection and this programme addresses the urgent need for fast and accurate antibody tests that show whether someone has been infected with the virus which causes Covid-19. The programme will assess how easy these tests are to use, improve the testing process and compare the results of the self-antibody tests to other more established ways of testing for antibodies.

Professor Pauline Walsh, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean for the University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said: “I am delighted that Keele can support this really important work. We have seen the impact of Covid-19 through our partnership working with local health and social care organisations. This study will provide crucial data to influence the future management of the disease.”

Professor Jonathan Wastling, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of Natural Sciences, said: “Rapid and accurate testing on a national scale will be an essential part of our road to recovery from Covid-19. We are delighted to be a part of this exciting work and the national effort to tackle the pandemic.”

Keele University is also home to Cobra Biologics, the manufacturing partner in the Oxford University vaccine project. For more information on what Keele University is doing as part of the national effort to tackle Covid-19 visit here, or if you’re interested in a degree in Public Health click here.