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Diagnostic laboratories have gone from performing no tests to 1000s each day

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Dr Patrick R Murray, Vice President, Scientific Affairs, Medical Affairs, BD shares knowledge on antimicrobial resistance and its relation with COVID-19, the new technologies by BD and the impact of COVID on the diagnostics sector in an interaction with Sanjiv Das

What impact did COVID-19 have on the in-vitro diagnostics reagents market and the companion diagnostics market?

It is difficult to imagine the impact of COVID-19 on the diagnostic laboratory. They have gone from performing no tests to 1000s each day. This has also challenged diagnostic companies – the need to develop completely new diagnostic tests, produce the reagents for the testing, and the collection devices and transport media. All this while the labs still have to perform all the ‘routine’ tests that have traditionally performed. Despite these challenges, the diagnostic companies and labs have done a heroic job meeting these challenges.

AMR has been a huge issue in India and with high antibiotics been prescribed to COVID 19 patients will the risk of AMR increase? How can this problem be fixed?

AMR is a risk for all COVID-19 patients. In the absence of diagnostics, many patients are treated empirically with antibiotics without data informing the physicians of the pathogen or the antibiotics that would be most successful in treating infections. To fix this problem, diagnostic tests such as blood cultures and antimicrobial susceptibility tests are critical.

BD has launched a portable, rapid point-of-care antigen test to detect SARS-CoV- 2 in 15 minutes. Tell us more about the kit.

The test is a digital immunoassay that detects major proteins in the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Almost from the beginning of the pandemic, BD has been working to develop this highly sensitive assay for the handheld Veritor platform that previously was used to detect other respiratory pathogens, such as influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and Strep A.

Recently, there was news of false-positive results with BD SARS-CoV-2 Reagents for the BD Max System. Would like to have your comment on the same.

The technical problem is understood (related to making the original assay too sensitive) and the R&D department is working to make the appropriate adjustments in the assay.

What new diagnostic testing and vaccine development technologies by BD will help manage COVID-19 pandemic globally and also in India?

Globally, the company has aligned with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the purchase of BD diagnostic solutions “BD Veritor Plus System”. The solution provides rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 and also helps in the identification of the community spread by the virus. BD Veritor Plus Systems are already in use in more than 25,000 hospitals, clinician offices, urgent care centres and retail pharmacies in all 50 states in the US. The system offers one-button functionality, workflow flexibility, and is easy to use making it an ideal solution for settings without laboratory personnel. It offers customers real-time reporting capabilities through the BD Synapsys informatics solution, which provides them with the ability to easily report data for disease monitoring and surveillance purposes. BD has and continues to strive to make their diagnostic portfolio as relevant as possible, including developing both molecular and immunoassays to simultaneously detect both the SARS virus and other relevant respiratory pathogens.

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