Case study - COVID-19 NAbTest

Research into the treatments, impacts and diagnoses of COVID-19 has spurned a plethora of new ways to keep the community safe from the virus – not least of which is a new finger prick test that quickly predicts a person’s immunity to COVID-19 and whether or not they need a coronavirus booster shot.

Developed by the Burnet Institute and the Doherty Institute with support from the Victorian Government, the new test works in under 20 minutes and can assess a person’s immunity to the virus by measuring their levels of neutralising antibodies to COVID-19.

When someone gets vaccinated for (or survives) other viruses, such as the measles, they become immune for the rest of their life – but immunity to COVID-19 works differently. Research has shown that immunity seems to wear off after a few months. Even with an effective vaccine, we’ll need a test like this one to check when a booster shoot is due.

Associate Professor David Anderson is the Chief Scientific Officer at the Burnet Diagnostic Institute and has led the team which has successfully developed an early prototype of the test. They are now working to scale up this new technology into a widely available, easy to use point-of-care product.

His team at the Burnet Institute is also working to create a test to show if someone has had COVID-19 recently, using a new approach that improves on traditional methods that haven’t worked well for COVID-19.

The Victorian Government has invested more than $580 million in medical research in the past year, including $31 million for COVID-19 research spanning immunity, testing, and community impacts.

Page last updated: 22 October 2021