On the afternoon of March 3, 2020, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) officially announced the successful manufacturing of the SARS-COV-2 Virus Diagnostic Kit by the research team led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dong Van Quyen and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dinh Duy Khang from the Institute of Biotechnology.
Admist the rapid global spread of COVID-19, right from the beginning of the outbreak, VAST asked scientists to focus their research on the disease. Proposals by scientists from VAST focus on four main directions:
- Genome sequencing of SARS-COV-2 virus, understanding the structure and genomic characteristics of the strain of the virus infecting Vietnamese patients;
- Developing and manufacturing kits to detect people infected with SARS-COV-2 Virus;
- Research on producing a vaccine against SARS-COV-2 Virus;
- Searching and screening for natural compounds with antiviral properties to treat infected people.
Under the current specific and urgent conditions, VAST decided to prioritize two urgent tasks, including Genome sequencing of SARS-COV-2 virus, understanding the structure and genomic characteristics of the strain of the virus infecting Vietnamese patients and Developing and manufacturing diagnostic kits to detect people infected with SARS-COV-2 Virus. VAST will carry out the remaining missions in the near future.
After an active period of implementation, the research team of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dong Van Quyen and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dinh Duy Khang has successfully manufactured a kit to detect SARS-COV-2 virus. The COVID-19 detection kit was developed based on Realtime RT-PCR technology, based on important genes and gene regions of COVID-19 isolated in Vietnam that the research team has sequenced.
Biological kit of the Institute of Biotechnology
Scientists carry out research to produce a test kit at the Institute of Biotechnology
The material used to develop the diagnostic kit is an RNA sample extracted from SARS-COV-2 virus that causes disease in Vietnamese patients, provided by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology. Genes as well as gene regions were cloned from the RNA of SARS-COV-2 Virus as the standard model for research and the provision of sequences for the design of primers and probes; RNA samples of a human respiratory disease virus were provided by 108 Military Central Hospital and the Military Institute of Preventive Medicine.
The SARS-COV-2 Virus Diagnostic Kit was tested at the Institute of Biotechnology. On the afternoon of March 2, 2020, the Kit was checked and assessed for sensitivity and specificity by the Military Institute of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of National Defence. Initial evaluation results show that the SARS-COV-2 Virus Diagnostic Kit of the Institute of Biotechnology has the same sensitivity and specificity as the Realtime RT-PCR Kit of the World Health Organization, specifically as follows:
- Specificity: 100%
- Sensitivity: 5 copies/ response.
- The time of detection procedure is 80 minutes from receipt of patient’s RNA samples.
The research results confirm that the Institute of Biotechnology under VAST have mastered modern technology and fully been active in creating the Realtime RT-PCR Kit to detect SARS-COV-2 in Vietnam, independent of the imported Kit. In the near future, the Institute will coordinate with the Military Institute of Preventive Medicine to produce large quantities in service of large-scale testing demand.
The Institute of Biotechnology is ready to coordinate with other authorities to deploy the COVID-19 Virus detection Kit to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. VAST will report this result to the Ministry of Health and direct the Institute of Biotechnology to produce a large number of detection kits, procedures for using or participating in testing when required.
Translated by Tuyet Nhung
Link to Vietnamese version