INTERNATIONAL VIROLENS RESEARCH CONSORTIUM - IVRC Background When a communicable disease ou...

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When a communicable disease outbreak begins, the ideal response is for public health officials to begin testing for it early. That leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people and immediate isolation to prevent spread.

Testing can help people determine if they are infected with SARS-2, regardless of whether they have symptoms – and whether they are at risk of spreading the infection to others.

COVID-19 Testing Methods

Current testing is primarily Diagnostic tests and Antibody Tests.

Diagnostic tests can show if a person has an active Covid-19 infection and needs to take steps to quarantine or isolate from others. Molecular and antigen tests are types of diagnostic tests than can detect if you have an active COVID-19 infection. Samples for diagnostic tests are typically collected with a nasal or throat swab, or saliva collected by spitting into a tube.

Antibody tests look for antibodies in the body that were produced in response to a prior infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibody tests cannot be used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection. Antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after an infection and may stay in the blood for weeks to decades or longer after recovery. Samples for antibody tests are typically blood from a finger prick, or blood drawn by your doctor or other medical personnel.

A New Approach

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, and the world of work. According to the WHO, the economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating: tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year.

Testing leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people and immediate isolation to prevent spread. Early testing also helps to identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be quickly treated.

It's crucial of course to help treat, isolate or hospitalize people who are infected. Testing is also important in the bigger public health picture for mitigation efforts, helping investigators characterize the prevalence, spread and contagiousness of the disease.

The Testing Challenge

As the virus has spread across the globe, laboratory testing has played an important role in diagnosing those with disease, as well as identifying individuals who are asymptomatic yet have the potential to serve as a source of viral transmission. Molecular tests, such as real-time PCR, have been the most common laboratory tool used to detect cases of COVID-19. In fact, SARS-CoV-2 molecular assays have become an integral component in a multipronged strategy aimed at reducing transmission of the virus. This strategy has consisted of case identification, quarantine or isolation of exposed/infected individuals, and contact tracing. Despite the broad application of this strategy, cases of COVID-19 have continued to surge.

The pandemic is an unprecedented health care crisis that has required clinical and laboratory professionals to rapidly adapt to new information, innovate, and, in some situations, implement practices that would not be considered under normal circumstances. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has forced clinical laboratories and test manufacturers to develop novel diagnostic assays in a time frame that previously would not have been considered feasible. As testing options have become available, health care professionals and diagnostics experts have had to learn how to best apply these tools to diagnose and manage patients with COVID-19 and slow the spread of disease. Some of these lessons have shown routine testing approaches to be effective, while others have taught us that a new pathogen, such as SARS-CoV-2, may require a new diagnostic playbook.

Mass Screening Device for SARS-CoV-2 ‘Virolens™’

Virolens™ is a breakthrough testing technology that uses visible light, holographic microscopy, and artificial intelligence to detect whole, intact SARS-CoV-2 virions. This unique approach allows near-perfect correlation with active infection, and thus infectivity.

The main advantages of Virolens™ is its accuracy, the speed of sampling, the immediacy of the test result, the small stand-alone footprint of the device and the lack of the requirement for a registered health practitioner for testing.

International Virolens™ Research Consortium – ‘IVRC’

KeyOptions, the authorized distributor of Virolens™ has been active in the preparation for and the deployment of Virolens™ in many parts of the world. As discussions have taken place with distributors, government’s agencies and the medical and healthcare profession, similar challenges, questions, and solutions have been discussed.

With this in mind, it would make sense to have a more centralized approach to these discussions, with the ultimate aim of sharing best medical and industry practice and to share that information quickly and efficiently.

With many disciplines involved in these discussions, including medical practitioners, virologists, civil servants and business alike, the quality and quantity of information is significant.

The mission of IVRC is to foster collaborative research among the Virolens™ community generally and in the field of varieties of COVID testing methods and screening in particular. It is planned to begin with regular informal meetings of IVRC in October 2021.

The IVRC plans to organize weekly seminars, where members and non-members can sign up and present their news, updates, study papers and so on, and to discuss them with the group. The research group will also arrange update sessions on the most recent papers and research matters for COVID-19, again with a particular focus on the Virolens™ Technology. The IVRC plans to organize workshops, conferences, guest lectures, and offer results from clinical trials, research and white papers.

The IVRC includes researchers and Virolens™ owners from Asia, Australasia, Latin Americas, Africa and the Middle East as well as international organizations and the representation of i-Abra, the Virolens™ technology founding company.

These partners have agreed to coordinate their research programmes to address agreed research needs, share results and together deliver new and improved Virolens™ testing and use strategies for current SARS-CoV-2 and future strains. It is hoped that the IVRC will be able to discuss new strains of the infection, including vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, together with other procedures and/or key scientific information and tools to support risk analysis and disease control.

To achieve these goals, IVRC working groups consisting of researchers will be established for each of the priority topics. Guided by the IVRC Scientific Committee, these groups will perform research analyses. The Scientific Committee, consisting of independent experts, will present analyses to the Virolens partners (and the wider community) and advise them on how their deployment and testing programmes might be aligned, improved and implemented.

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