The Dynex Agility Automated Elisa System which was funded by Freemasons from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire, has been fully installed and configured at the University of East Anglia. Four staff members have been trained to carry out the Covid-19 antibody tests to determine if someone has had the virus and developed immunity to it.
The £91,000 machine was presented to Professor Bill Fraser by the Head of Norfolk Freemasons, RW Bro. Stephen Allen.
The Government has agreed to allow antibody testing nationally and has asked the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital to produce 1,400 test results per day. Together with other analysers across the Norwich Research Park, the UEA will contribute to meet this demand. This fully validated testing system has also been able to help validate or reject other possible tests that could be used to further increase total capacity across the Eastern region and beyond.
An important phase of the UEA’s Covid-19 research has already begun, with the UEA offering coronavirus testing to all students and staff. Using the PCR test, this can detect if somebody currently has the virus.
The testing aims to prevent the silent spread of the virus and provide reassurance to students, staff and the Norfolk community. It will allow the UEA to swiftly localise any outbreaks and put immediate measures in place to support those who have contracted the virus and enable others to continue their studies and deliver critical scientific research with minimal disruption.
Professor Fraser’s antibody test will play a vital role in this work. Those who return a positive PCR test will be asked to contribute a sample on a regular basis in order to determine whether immunity persists over time, helping to understand whether patients who test positive for antibodies become re-infected. This further test will provide vital information to support the future fight against Covid-19.
Looking further into the future, Professor Fraser’s test will also be used when the first vaccines are distributed to understand the type of protection it offers in the long, medium or short term. The test will provide vital information to understand how regularly the population of Norfolk needs to receive further vaccinations.
For example, parts of our population are vaccinated every year for flu. This project will also contribute to the global understanding of long term immunity and vaccination success.
The full impact of Covid-19 is not yet fully understood, but this strategic and long term project will bring vital knowledge to our research community – and eventually our health services on the frontline – to manage the fight against the pandemic and ensure we can all return to a normal life as soon as possible.