People could be tested for COVID-19 “every couple of days” by the end of the year, according to Trinity Professor Luke O’Neill.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the biochemistry expert said there are currently four different four different front in the global battle against the virus – vaccines, therapeutics, public health and testing.
He said there are 190 different vaccines under development, along with over 1,000 therapeutic treatments and hundreds of different testing methods.
“There is a massive effort to get better tests,” he said. “Quick, rapid, reliable tests because if we can do that, that is a rally great weapon to use – particularly on asymptomatics.
“We should all really have a test every day basically and then, if you have the virus you stay home. That is a great way to beat the virus remember because then the people who have the virus on board are isolating and it doesn’t spread.”
He said one test in particular “looks really good.”
“It is called Detector,” he said. “It takes less than an hour, it is very accurate and you can do it anywhere. You can do it in airports, you can do it at home and you can do it in schools.
“This looks really good. They are really saying now this could be the one. If this is a reality, we are looking at two or three months from now where testing anytime, anyplace, anywhere could be introduced.
“Israel is ahead of the game here. They have really focused on this so that may be the first country where everyone has a test every couple of days.”
Professor O’Neill also warned that recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 immunity may not last as long as hoped.
He said a new study on the coronaviruses that cause the common cold has found that, on average, people can get reinfected with the same virus with nine to 12 months.
“One-in-five colds we get are caused by coronaviruses,” he said. “It is obviously a much milder disease but they are in the same family and there are a huge number of similarities between the viruses that cause a cold and the one that causes COVID-19.
“So, it is an important question can you get re-infected with the same cold virus? A big study has just come out suggesting, sadly, there is evidence for reinfection with the same virus.
“What they have shown is that, on average, about nine to 12 months afterwards you can pick up the same virus again and get re-infected and we would assume it is going to be somewhat similar with COVID-19.”
He said this could mean that any COVID-19 vaccine will have to be taken once or twice a year to be effective.
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