LOGAN — A small biotech company in Logan is entering the fight against the coronavirus by developing a test to detect COVID-19 antibodies.
That information could be critical in knowing just how many people have had the novel coronavirus and who could be immune to it.
Quansys Bioscience in Logan has been testing a variety of diseases across the world for developing countries for 15 years. Officials said it was natural for them to now move into COVID-19.
“We realized pretty quickly, yes, there is something that we can do. We can build a test that will be able to tell people if they had the disease a month ago, two months ago (or more),” said Chris Lyman, vice president of research and development at Quansys Bioscience.
This isn’t a test to determine if a person currently has the virus, but it could determine if you have developed a possible immunity to the virus or if you could get it again.
“What it does for the individual is it gives you confidence now that you won’t be infected that you can go and visit your grandma now that you can go and visit or help people in the community,” said Dr. Brett Baumgartner, lead scientist with Quansys Bioscience. “What it tells the public is the spread of the virus, how many people truly were infected by this virus.”
Testing for antibodies against the coronavirus is not something new. Biotech companies across the world are working to get those tests onto the market. The challenge is there are still so many unknowns about COVID-19, such as can a person get the virus again?
“There is still some investigation work that needs to be done to determine the usefulness of those (antibody) tests. They depend on a high prevalence of the disease or having a lot of the population being infected with the disease already before we can trust those results,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn. “Right now, the gold standard for testing for COVID-19 are the nasal swaps we find at the testing sites.”
Quansys is convinced that once it checks off all the requirements and gets FDA approval, these kinds of tests could be a life-changer.
“It’s that knowledge that you are protected. That you may be immune, that you are free to return to work and start kick-starting the economy and getting things going again,” Baumgartner said.
If the company can get FDA approval and meet health department requirements, it hopes to have the test available here in Utah by May 1.
Quansys said it would be a simple finger prick test that could have results in a couple of hours.