BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Since early March, Veritas has been collaborating with the leaders in academia and industry on a solution leveraging its Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) platform used in genetic testing, to scale to upwards of tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests per day in a single clinical laboratory and expand the test to include other viruses. This collaboration has included the Church lab at Harvard Medical School, as well as Illumina who recently received an EUA for their own NGS-based COVID-19 test, COVIDSeq™ Test.
As the national and global testing capacity comes online and demand continues to surge, clinical lab testing still remains limited by the scale of the technology used and the costs remain high or unchanged, limiting access to many businesses to deploy testing for prevention and outbreak management.
To serve employers needs, Veritas has partnered with ConvenientMD to offer on-site collection as well as testing at over 20 ConvenientMD locations throughout the New England states. Both molecular tests (detecting active virus) and antibody tests (detecting previous exposure to COVID-19) are currently available while the next generation sequencing test comes online.
Our Next Generation COVID-19 test will improve the scalability but also reduce the cost compared to current methodology (PCR). It also addresses and improves upon various existing supply chain and automation bottlenecks.
“We are working on multiple fronts to address the COVID-19 test challenges including enabling clinical labs such as Veritas to massively increase testing capacity to millions of tests through use of Next Generation Sequencing,” said Dr. George Church, co-founder of Veritas Genetics and a professor at Harvard and MIT and co-director of the Wyss and Blavatnik institutes at Harvard.
Using next generation sequencing to detect the virus also allows detection of the sequence of the entire virus, further aiding the research aspect as the virus mutates over time. This type of information can also aid in tracing the source of specific outbreaks and identifying if one or multiple strains of the virus are present within a subpopulation being tested.
Given the most recent surge of COVID positive cases in the US and the extension of the pandemic into the summer and potentially the fall and winter, another challenge is presenting itself.
“As we enter the flu season and more individuals have common flu symptoms, we will face an additional challenge of triaging those that are affected with COVID from those that have seasonal flu infections. This is why we are planning to include simultaneous detection of SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza A and B in a single test called NextGen COVID+ by Veritas,” says Mirza Cifric, co-founder and CEO of Veritas.
Next Generation sequencing technology will allow us to include other viruses into the same test without significantly increasing the cost but still maintaining large scale.
The availability of the NextGen COVID+ test will depend on multiple factors including obtaining the FDA EUA authorization and is expected this fall. Early access will be provided on a priority basis to healthcare workers and at risk populations and, depending on availability, expanded to include existing customers of current Veritas COVID testing.
The company will continue to process its myGenome whole genome sequencing and interpretation services for current customers and B2B customers but will not accept any new consumer orders at this time from the US.
Veritas is a genomics pioneer. Founded by thought leaders from Harvard Medical School, the company operates in over 30 countries providing individuals and healthcare providers with insight to prevent and treat diseases using the whole genome sequencing and interpretation services. For more information, please visit veritasgenetics.com.
Headquartered in Portsmouth, NH, ConvenientMD is a healthcare provider dedicated to delivering exceptional quality medical care and revolutionizing the clinical experience for patients throughout New England. By offering fast, quality care at an affordable rate, ConvenientMD is raising the bar for urgent care and reshaping the delivery of modern healthcare. Each urgent care center provides an advanced array of services – including X-rays, IVs, labs and minor surgical procedures – as well as staff committed to following an innovative, full-service approach to satisfying patients’ demands for convenient, compassionate treatment in an urgent care setting. For more information, please visit convenientmd.com.