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30 January, 2020 - 14:32 By Tony Quested

New test for killer coronavirus close, says Novacyt

Novacyt subsidiary Primerdesign is close to putting a new test for the killer coronavirus in the hands of global researchers helping to fight the crisis.

Novacyt, which owns Lab 21 Healthcare in Cambridge, said Primerdesign was in the final stages of developing a new molecular novel coronavirus test as a direct response to the recent outbreak of the potentially deadly respiratory virus in China. 

The company will make the test available for research use only on Primerdesign’s proprietary genesig® Q16 and Q32 instruments, as well as a number of other real-time PCR instruments commonly used in testing laboratories. 

A number of Novacyt’s customers have already enquired about the availability of this test and orders have already been received.

The virus is of major concern as it is from the same family of viruses as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which emerged in China in 2002 and killed nearly 800 people worldwide. 

Authorities have recently confirmed that the virus can be passed from person to person via airborne transmission sparking concerns over the level of contagion. 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported this week that countries including the US, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Thailand and Korea are reporting the presence of this infection. 

Novacyt CEO Graham Mullis said the virus is not currently considered a global health emergency as designated by the WHO but this may change as more data becomes available. “The Primerdesign test is therefore well positioned to quickly assist affected countries.”

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