JOHANNESBURG - Diagnostic test kits for the coronavirus are in high demand - but all of them are imported.
A South African company is looking to potentially change that and fast.
A cheaper, locally produced kit would separate the seasonal flu sufferer from a person infected with COVID-19, alleviating the strain on our healthcare system.
Cape Bio Pharm is introducing spike proteins into plants, which are reproducing them but to what end?
“We are making the outside spike proteins of the virus which you could also put onto a test kit," Tamlyn Shaw, Cape Bio Pharms Director and Ops Manager.
“You put a drop of blood into this kit. Your body will have developed antibodies against the virus after a few days of infection. The antibodies in your blood would then bind to the spike protein on the test kit.”
If your antibodies bind with the protein, you’ve tested positive.
The world is in a race against the spread of the virus.
Testing all suspected cases is vital.
“What that does, a widely available cheap diagnostic, it takes the pressure off hospitals and doctors, it takes the strain and angst out of everyone. We’re going into the winter season, everyone gets flu in winter," said Belinda Shaw, Cape Bio Pharms CEO & Founder.
"At least it separates and then we’re able to manage that disease so much better."
Interest in the business, a spin-off of the University of Cape Town’s BioPharming Research Unit, is growing. While plant-based platforms for bio-medical research are less expensive than traditional systems, they’re still not cheap.
Almost 5,000 tests have been conducted in South Africa, with more than 4,600 of those being negative.
This highlights just how crucial testing is, so as not to waste valuable medical resources during this State of Disaster.
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