Test kit to detect Covid-19 immunity launched

Battling the virus: A model holding the test kit at its launch in Cyberjaya.

CYBERJAYA: Malaysia has launched a test kit that is able to detect an individual’s immunity towards Covid-19.

Called ImmuSAFE, the test will tell the level of immunity a person has towards Covid-19 based on their antibodies.

It is developed by local company Sengenics Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).

The advantages of being able to tell a person’s immunity level towards Covid-19 is to prevent the closing down of a workplace or an entire industry because someone has been infected, said MARii chief executive officer Datuk Madani Sahari.

“The ImmuSAFE test can check for those who are immune and have developed antibodies.

“Those who do not have antibodies must follow the SOP (standard operating procedure) if they are at work.

“So, only the person who is infected should stay at home and the others who are okay should continue working. If you quarantine the entire staff for two weeks, it becomes a loss of opportunity, ” Madani explained.

ImmuSAFE works by complementing the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test currently used by the government for Covid-19 testing.

“This test is not going to replace the RT-PCR test, as the RT-PCR is the confirmatory test to detect the presence of Covid-19 when a person is infected.

“ImmuSAFE would be a supplementary test. Combined with RT-PCR, it can give a complete image whether a person has been infected and if yes, whether the person is immune against the virus or not.

“Together, both tests would be the perfect solution to understand the status whether you are being infected or not with Covid-19, ” Madani said at a press conference after the launch of ImmuSAFE here yesterday.

The ImmuSAFE test has a sensitivity and specificity of 100% and this has been validated by the Health Ministry’s Institute of Medical Research (IMR).

This means that the ImmuSAFE test result will not produce false positives and negatives, unlike other antigen tests.

Based on tests conducted on 5,000 samples, the test results can be obtained in less than 24 hours.

Also present at the launch event was Sengenics chief executive officer Dr Arif Anwar.

Dr Arif said the test kit was developed within a few months and cost about US$5mil (RM20.7mil).

Although not revealing the true cost of the ImmuSAFE test, Madani said it would be priced less than the RT-PCR test, which is about RM388 per person on average.

At the event, MARii also launched the ImmuSAFE Tracker, an app it developed that has intelligent contact tracing capabilities based on the agency’s big data analytics and artificial intelligence platforms.

MARii is an agency under the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

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