Developing an antibody test

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Emergency Appeal for antibody testing – supporters already made a difference.

Mid-March the University of Exeter launched an Emergency Appeal to trial a new test for antibodies to Coronavirus. If successful, it will give the NHS a rapid and cheap tool to track recovery rates and identify people who have developed immunity to the virus.

If successful, we will be able to answer vital, life changing questions:

  • Is the patient sick and raising an immune response to the virus?
  • Is the patient’s immune response going to be protective?
  • Has the patient recovered, no longer sick but protected?

This work is being supported by  Attomarker Ltd, a spin-out company from the University of Exeter which has developed technology designed to measure patients’ response to Covid-19 in just five minutes. This contrasts with several hours using current diagnostic technology. 

Professor Andrew Shaw’s research group, in collaboration with Professor Chris Hyde at Exeter’s Medical School, will perform diagnostic accuracy tests at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.

The Exeter team is being hosted by Professor Jonathan Edgeworth at St Thomas’s Centre for Clinical Infection and Diagnostics, one of the technology assessment centres contributing to the government’s response to the pandemic.

If successful, the test should provide a key tool to keep this pandemic under control.  For example, one hundred test instruments could test the entire population of Exeter in less than a week. We need to refine the test and understand its accuracy.


Projected costs for the 12-week, 1,800 tests campaign are £48,000 for the tests themselves, £45,000 to pay for the production of five new instruments and £12,000 to fund an increased team. £105,000 in total. 

Thanks to donations from over 1,300 people we raised £120,000 – further updates can be read at:

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