NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

Development of ELISA and rapid testing kits for COVID-19

This project is based at Allergy and Asthma Institute, Pakistan


  • Project title:  Development of ELISA and rapid testing kits for COVID-19 and their commercialisation in Pakistan
  • Based at:  Allergy and Asthma Institute, Pakistan (AAIP)
  • Start date: March 2021
  • End date: November 2021
  • Principal investigator:  Osman M Yusuf
  • Project team:  Muhammad Qasim, Shahida Ashraf, Sabiha Anis, Fatima Zehra Kanani, Aimal Rextin, Muhammad Saad Khan, Asad Ali


As the number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan continues to increase, so does the need for low cost, reliable and sensitive screening mechanisms.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are currently being used to diagnose cases of COVID-19 globally. There are a number of challenges around the use of PCR testing in Pakistan, including availability and accuracy, with reported false negative results. This has highlighted the urgent need for simple, rapid and inexpensive kits, developed in country, for mass scale screening.

Serological tests can be used to identify whether people have been exposed to the virus, including those that may be asymptomatic or have recovered, by looking at their immune response. By contrast, PCR tests can only indicate the presence of viral material during infection. Serological tests can therefore give greater information into the prevalence of a disease in a population and are essential in planning preventative strategies.

The ELISA based mechanism (a form of serological testing) does not require high-tech equipment and is easy to perform in frontline health care clinics and hospitals.

Aim and impact

This project aims to develop cost-effective, sensitive and rapid screening mechanisms for the detection of viral components and immune response to SARS-CoV2 (which causes COVID-19), based on the principle of ELISA and other immunodiagnostics.

This will provide rapid, sensitive and low-tech solutions to frontline health care facilities for screening of COVID-19 patients in low and middle income countries. It will also facilitate the evaluation of therapeutic strategies and vaccines.

Once the kits are developed, the technology can be modified and used to detect various other pathogens.

Key developments

  • Data collection is in progress.

Project data

Download the project Data Management Plan