COVID Testing

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  • Until a Treatment and/or Vaccine is developed for COVID-19, the main methods of prevention and controll will be Testing for Infection of Suspected Cases, and Pandemic Control Measures
  • This page explores failed tests, current tests, and potential/in development/near future tests, and then how OSE can contribute to current efforts
  • General background on biological testing - [1]
  • List of commercially available tests:' - [2]
  • "But here is the second part: We need massive, coordinated testing of the population. Even today, we don’t know how many people are infected in the community and how many people without symptoms are spreading the infection to others." - [3]

Antibody Test

  • Types of antibody tests from Johns Hopkins: neutralization, IFA, ELISA, Western blot tests - [4]
  • How to produce antibodies - [5]. "A single antibody (monoclonal antibody) can be stably produced if a single B cell producing the antibody is isolated and cultured indefinitely."
  • Existing antibody tests mentioned in article about one location having 100% testing - [6]
  • Bangladesh approves $3 test - [7]
  • Oxford $25 test - [8]. See Oxford Test Notes.
  • ELIZA test - mentioned in [9]
  • Molecular diagnostics vs immunoassay - [10]
  • Antibody types - IgG vs IgM - [11]


  • Polymerase Chain Reaction -
  • Need a marker for $50, which can do 1000 tests
  • Need a lab
  • Nobel Prize of 1985 for PCR
  • Good for gene synthesis -
  • Virus has been sequenced -
  • Primers - to be sequenced -
  • 10k - base pairs
  • What primer to select? There are regions of the genome that
  • Influenza - virus. It's quite mutable
  • Look at the sequence - it's random. Take a specific region.
  • Unique to COVID - take a gene sequence.
  • $100- for 100 or so tests
  • PAPR

Subject Matter Experts - SMEs

  • Catherine Blish, Stanford, mentioned in [12] - [13]

See Also


  • Why testing in the USA is hard - [14]
  • $1.20 test from the UK - [15]
  • Serum tests (antibody tests) can detect who HAD COVID - by presence of antibodies. RT-PCR detects only who currently HAS COVID. [16]
  • Description of RT-PCR from Wired. Also mentions Crispr tech being used for quicker tests. - [17]
  • COVID genomes - [18]
  • COVID Test Kits
  • 30 minute test - [19]. The tests consist of strips of paper that are coated with antibodies that bind to a specific viral protein. Isolate antibodies from patients. Sequence them, then make them synthetically. Antibody is a tag that attaches to protein. You detect the virus antibody - such as ELIZA Assay. Colorimetric assay. Suppose you want to detect virus. Take a sample. Add it to a multiwell dish. Coat dish with sample, add anitbody that would attach to it if there is one. Wash everything else, and and detect the antibody that attached. IGG type secondary antibody - which has a fluorescent tag. Which you can detect with a biochemical reaction. They don't have the sequence of the antibody yet. They are produced by T-Cells. Culture the cells, isolate antibodies from them. This difficulty was demonstrated with AIDS. It happens 3-4 months. Need 100 ml of blood sample. If it works well, you may succeed in getting the cells that produce antibodies. You expose them to virus, and they produce antibodies. Need to replicate T-Cells. It's not trivial. Requirements for cell to grow are finicky.
  • PCR vs antibody testing - Why antibody testing will matter. And the fragility of global supply chains being in China. [20]
  • Immunoassay - [21] - lateral flow automated immunoassay - [22]