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The Austrian government has committed itself to testing in the fight against the corona virus. This calls for a vast number of test kits. For one, an antibody test for determining whether someone has already been infected. A quick test that was developed in New York is being made in Austria for use in laboratories.

Approximately 30 to 40 % of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) will not develop any symptoms. This means that the people affected were infected without ever experiencing the typical symptoms of this illness. Only sick people can be detected using the existing PCR test. This test cannot be used to determine whether someone has already been ill and is now immune to the coronavirus.

“Whoever is not sick anymore and has antibodies can no longer be infected nor transmit the virus,” Reingard Grabherr explains. He is head of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) ) in Vienna, Austria. This means they can go back to work. That’s why it’s especially important to test doctors and nurses.”

Test kits determine whether someone already has had corona

While development of antibody testing is still ongoing in Austria, Austrian virologist Florian Krammer recently successfully completed this work at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. His antibody test can check whether someone has already developed an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Krammer previously worked at BOKU Vienna and will now send the tools that are needed to produce the test to Austria. Here, virologist Grabherr aims to set up the new antibody test together with other Austrian universities. Within a very short time, they hope to make it available to as many laboratories as possible.

Surface proteins of the corona virus

The university team took on the task of producing the relevant surface proteins of the corona virus. This production can be based on animal and bacterial cell systems as well as plant cell systems. In the first step, a scalable production platform is to be set up. This is in order to be able to deliver the surface proteins of the corona virus in sufficient quantities and in consistent qualities. The antibody test will be needed over a long period of time. They’re also looking into whether it can be made available abroad.


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