A “next-generation” COVID test made in Israel tells coronavirus-infected people how likely they are to deteriorate to serious illness.
The MeMed COVID-19 Severity test received the CE mark on Tuesday, which means it is approved for use in Europe and the UK. It is expected to be greenlighted for Israel in two to three months, and discussions on approval have also started with the US Food and Drug Administration.
Patients give a tenth of a millimeter of blood, a nurse loads it into a cartridge that looks like a TV remote control and places that into a portable machine, and within 15 minutes the results are displayed on a screen.
The machine provides a number between 0 and 100; the higher the number, the higher the chance of deterioration to severe coronavirus. “It doesn’t just describe the severity of the COVID-19 at the moment of the test, but actually predicts what level of illness will unfold over the next two weeks,” Eran Eden, MeMed’s co-founder and CEO, told The Times of Israel.
He said that results are 86 percent accurate.
The technology hinges on research that his company has been conducting for a decade — peer reviewed and published in medical journals including the Lancet — tracking what specific protein levels in the blood indicate about the prospects for certain health conditions. It gathered a mass of data in dozens of medical centers across the world, in a project funded by the US Department of Defense and the European Commission.
Doctors and nurses collected blood samples from patients and then documented their health patterns. Eden’s team then built the technology used by the MeMed COVID-19 Severity test, and by an earlier “snuffles” test.
“We already launched a system to determine why a child has snuffles, and tell doctors whether it’s a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics or a viral infection that just needs chicken soup,” Eden said. “This has been deployed in some Israeli medical centers and we’re starting to deploy it in Europe.”
“Now, we’re leveraging the same technology to go after COVID-19 severity, and there will be many more applications, including other diseases and possibly the next pandemic.
“If you consider that a strong COVID-19 response was needed to ensure hospitals were not overwhelmed, such technology could have helped to use hospital resources more efficiently, by having a better idea of who needed escalation of care,” added Eden.
“What is more, we have seen with the coronavirus that having an early alert — intervening early — helps to bring less severe outcomes. You can better tailor treatment to try to avert serous illness.”