Avacta pauses sales of COVID-19 antigen test to boost Omicron sensitivity

An illustration of the UK Government’s website to book coronavirus disease (COVID-19) home test kits, in London, Britain, April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Illustration

Jan 10 (Reuters) – British biotech firm Avacta Group (AVCT.L) said on Monday it was halting sales of its COVID-19 antigen lateral flow test, AffiDX, to replace antibodies in the device and boost its ability to detect the Omicron coronavirus variant at lower viral loads.

The London-listed company’s test can detect the Omicron variant when the virus is present in high concentrations, but tests carried out by Avacta found AffiDX is less sensitive to Omicron at lower viral loads when compared with other variants.

Scientists and governments are scrambling to bolster defences against Omicron with testing, shots, therapies, and by decoding genomes to try and measure how far it has spread as the variant threatens to become dominant globally.

Roche’s newly acquired unit TIB Molbiol in December developed three new test kits to help researchers detect mutations in the Omicron variant. read more

Avacta and some other test makers also had to pull some of their COVID-19 tests from the British market after a new review system came into force, which has not yet granted approval for their previously accepted products. read more

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Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Amna Karimi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.