New serological test performed with the IDF

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a new test to add to the current diagnostic arsenal used to detect coronavirus infection. The test is serological, based on blood samples, and measures the presence of antibodies against the virus.

It can be used to assess the full extent of the spread of the virus in the general population. A TAU team led by Prof. Motti Gerlic and Prof. Ariel Munitz, both from the Sackler School of Medicine, along with researchers from the Israel Medical Corps will use this novel trial to conduct the first generalized test of Army Forces soldiers. Defense of Israel for the development of antibodies against the coronavirus.

A military rescue
The tests are carried out in collaboration with the Israel Medical Corps to minimize outbreaks in the units, maintain full operational capacity and prepare for future epidemics.

The new electrochemiluminescence-based serological test, developed in collaboration with Biological Industries, Israel, is capable of detecting the full range of antibodies produced by the immune system, IgM, IgG and IgA. The new test is accurate, reliable and fast (it only takes one hour) and is currently being evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States.

A faster and more accurate test
“Until now, the common method of detection, through nasal swabs, was based on quantitative PCR analysis, which amplifies viral genes,” explains Professor Gerlic. “While this method is excellent in the early stages of viral spread, it has great

drawbacks: less precision, since swabs are taken five days after the onset of symptoms; expensive; and does not convey any data on an individual’s level of immunity. “The new test will allow researchers to monitor and analyze the immune response of both COVID-19 patients and healthy asymptomatic individuals to answer the question: How much public has been exposed to the virus? Although there are tools for the diagnosis of infected individuals, the response of the host to the virus remains unclear, specifically, the association between the appearance of different antibodies and the severity of the disease.

The test will provide an overview of various trends in the general population and in the IDF in particular, as it identifies antibodies weeks after exposure to the virus and the development of any symptoms. The new serological test will provide the IDF with an indication of which soldiers (symptomatic and asymptomatic) were exposed to the disease and which developed resistance to the virus, while also identifying soldiers who have not yet been infected and may be at risk.

Quality and quantity
“Fear of contagion in the IDF could affect the operational capacity of certain units,” concludes Professor Munitz. “The tests we conduct will allow the military to identify those soldiers who have developed antibodies and possibly even viral resistance and who can continue their duties without risk of infection and disease spread. As we expand testing and our base of data, the IDF will be able to scale up its operations while balancing its concern for the health of soldiers. ”

Lt. Col. Dr. Ariel Furer of the Israel Medical Corps: “This study allows us to evaluate an important tool in the fight against the corona epidemic. The antibody tests used in this study can shed light on the extent of morbidity of the IDF as a result of the virus and will help prepare the IDF and the Medical Corps for another epidemic. Collaborations with researchers at the forefront of the fight against corona position the Medical Corps as a leading health organization, allowing it to test the use of the most advanced means available to safeguard the well-being and health of soldiers. As a result of this study, we will be able to evaluate the possibility of incorporating such tests into routine controls in the fight against corona. “

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