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Oxford ups COVID-19 testing capacity with Thermo Fisher deal

FILE PHOTO: People walk past an illustration of a virus outside a regional science centre, as the city and surrounding areas face local restrictions in an effort to avoid a local lockdown being forced upon the region, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Oldham, Britain August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

(Reuters) - The University of Oxford has partnered with U.S.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific TMO.N to ramp up its capacity to deliver COVID-19 testing data and help collect and quantify immune responses in its vaccine trials, the university said on Tuesday.

The collaboration will increase Oxford’s testing capacity to up to 50,000 tests per day with its new rapid testing lab and a device from Thermo Fisher that can detect antibodies developed in a person against the new coronavirus, it added.

“The equipment further enhances Oxford’s capacity to quantify the response to vaccines accurately and on a large scale as part of our ongoing clinical trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine to assess vaccine performance,” the statement said.

Oxford is working on an experimental COVID-19 vaccine with AstraZeneca AZN.L, and eagerly anticipated data from large studies of the vaccine, one of the frontrunners, is expected by year-end. Pfizer PFE.N on Monday said its vaccine was over 90% effective.

Researchers at Oxford will expand the use of Thermo Fisher’s test in Britain’s COVID-19 infection survey by collecting and studying infection and antibody data for about a year, the chief investigator of the survey, Sarah Walker, said.

The test is called Thermo Scientific OmnipathTM Combi SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISA, and the American company has also collaborated with WuXi Diagnostics and the Mayo Clinic on another COVID-19 test here.

The Oxford statement said the collaboration would also help Britain in its plans to tackle the coronavirus. The country went into another lockdown this month following a surge in infections.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair and Steve Orlofsky

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