22 February 2021
Unilabs launches custom-made Covid-19 test that also identifies the new “hotspot” coronavirus variants
Geneva, 22 February 2021: Unilabs, the leading European diagnostic group, has developed an innovative test kit that not only detects Covid-19, but also the most prevalent “hotspot” variants of the virus, simplifying the diagnostic process, delivering faster results, and adding another weapon in the fight against the virus. The kit is currently only in use at Unilabs, Switzerland.
This test kit was developed internally by a team led by Pierre-Alain Menoud, Head of Unilabs Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in Lausanne. Unlike other existing detection techniques, our kit enables the simultaneous assessment of two parameters in the same test – the positivity for Covid-19, and the presence of specific “hotspot” variants such as the UK, Danish, Brazilian, and South African variants.
Since some of the available vaccines appear to work better against specific variants, detailed information on the spread of the specific variants will enable vaccination programs to be better tailored to local outbreaks, saving lives.
"This kit is what we call a multiplex. In other words, it simultaneously detects the presence of the virus – and shows whether the patient is Covid-19 positive – while being sensitive to the presence of the specific variants,” said Pierre-Alain Menoud. “The advantage of this kit is that it is an open system that allows us to work with standard PCR equipment. While the test is more complex, running positivity and variant assays in parallel; considerably speeds up the process, and allows for timely, efficient patient care and management.”
Usually, whenever possible, positive coronavirus cases are sequenced in a second step: their genome is studied to establish the specific variant. This method involves separate analyses, takes longer, and comes with high costs for the patients or the health providers.
Unilabs experts are already working on a detection kit capable of identifying additional variants of Covid-19.
Alistair Hammond, Director of Communications
t: +44 771 773 0441
Unilabs is one of Europe’s largest diagnostics companies. It offers a complete range of laboratory, pathology and imaging services for patients all around the world. With 12,700 employees across 150 imaging centres and 250 labs in 17 countries, we perform more than four million lab tests a week – saving lives every single day.