The testers focused on the monkey chicken market

The test tubes, labeled “Monkey Smallpox Virus Positive and Negative,” are shown in the May 23, 2022, illustration. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File Photo

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LONDON, June 3 (Reuters) – Diagnostic companies are vying to develop monkey disease tests as governments step up efforts to find the world’s first major epidemic of viral infection outside Africa.

The disaster began last month, and in early 2020, companies tried to make kits to help diagnose COVID-19, generating billions of dollars in benefits for testers.

However, the demand for monkey smallpox tests is part of the reason for COVID, because smallpox is not as contagious and dangerous as COVID – it usually spreads through close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and purulent skin ulcers. on their own within a week. read more

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And unlike the sudden onset of COVID, there are vaccines, treatments, and tests that can help control the spread of smallpox. read more

Analysts say the new market may soften, but not replace it – the expected slowdown in COVID-diagnostic sales as the need to test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and worries about monkeypox increase.

For example, Roche (ROG.S) made 1.9 billion Swiss francs ($ 2.0 billion) from sales of COVID tests in the first quarter, and Barclays analyst Emily Field estimates that tests will generate a total of 3 billion Swiss francs for the company in 2022.

“It will be very difficult to cover it in any way for monkey smallpox earnings,” he said.

Since the beginning of May, more than 550 cases of monkey disease have been reported in about 30 countries. Most were in Europe and the virus was not associated with travel to endemic Africa. Public health authorities suspect that the community has been infected to some extent. No casualties were reported.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) expects infections to increase as they spread, and its European observer warns that it will accelerate the spread of people to summer parties and festivals. read more

This epidemic is significant on the scale of monkey pox, but there is still no need for hundreds of thousands of trials, said Daniel Baush, senior director of FIND Global Alliance for Threats and Global Health Safety, at the time this COVID occurred. for diagnosis.

“It won’t be the next COVID … so I don’t think the needs are big. I don’t expect it.” [test] It will be a matter of security. “

TEST, TEST

Some countries, including Switzerland and the Netherlands, have reported only a few cases and say there is still enough opportunity to test for monkeys. About 200 cases have been confirmed, and Britain is working to expand capacity.

Although researchers previously had fragmented access to the chemicals and other materials needed to perform PCR tests against smallpox, kits developed by companies such as Roche theoretically allow them to get everything they need to process a sample in a laboratory.

Kits like Roche have not been cleared by regulators for use as a medical diagnosis – but they are only available for research purposes.

At the same time, more than a dozen Chinese companies on the list, including Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies (688399.SS), said they had added the EU’s CE quality mark to their kits.

The regime allows testers to independently verify compliance with EU rules and can be sold in the region accordingly. read more

In general, there are two types of tests: PCR and antigen tests, which are designed to determine if a person is currently or very recently infected, and antibody tests, which show whether a person has been infected before.

The monkey smallpox virus belongs to the family of orthopoxiruses, which includes smallpox and smallpox.

PCR tests are the gold standard test for the detection of smallpox, and the design of antigen and antibody tests reduces the likelihood of a positive result in the detection of smallpox in monkeys.

According to the WHO, it is unknown whether infected but symptomatic individuals can transmit the virus, so it is unclear whether suspicious cases should be screened in advance.

However, since suspicious cases are expected to be isolated for up to 21 days, rapid antigen testing may be helpful in the absence of the prevalent smallpox virus in the population, said Carlos Malukuer de Motes, who led the research team on poxvirus biology. At the University of Surrey.

Most diagnosticians focus on PCR tests for monkeys. Several others, including Tetracore Inc., are working on rapid antigen testing.

But caution is needed.

“Almost none of the kits, listed for research or otherwise, have undergone extensive testing,” Baush said. “It would be fun to order all the tests that come to the market unexpectedly and see what you get.”

($ 1 = 0.9580 Swiss francs)

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Natalie Grover’s report in London; Additional reports by Ludwig Burger of Frankfurt, Roxanne Liu of China, Michael Shields of Zurich, and Anthony Deutsch of Amsterdam; Twitter: @NatalieGrover; Edited by Matt Skaffham, Josephine Mason and Mark Potter

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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