Aussie firm signs $300m deal to produce innovative Covid tests

Reuters
·2-min read

A Queensland company has been awarded AU$300 million to provide at-home Covid-19 tests in the US.

The US Department of Defense said the funding will help Queensland-based firm Ellume increase production capacity by 640,000 tests per day by December 2021, adding that the government would procure 8.5 million of the tests.

The self-performed test, which won US emergency use authorisation in December, can give results within 15 minutes or less.

Ellume's Covid-19 tests show roughly 95 per cent accuracy, senior advisor to the White House Covid-19 response team, Andy Slavitt, said during a press briefing on Monday.

Kyle Pearson has his temperature checked at the start of his shift at Vibram Corporation in North Brookfield, MA.
A factory worker in Massachusetts undergoes a Covid test before work. Source: Getty Images

The test offers a nasal swab analyser that connects to a software application on users' smartphone, and gives results in 20 minutes.

Ellume CEO Dr Sean Parsons said in December the test is “really simple” to use.

“They buy a kit, everything they need to perform the test is inside the kit, with the exception of their personal smart phone. So they download a free app onto their phone and that app walks them through how to use the test, step by step,” Dr Parsons said.

Mr Slavitt made the comments as part of the Joe Biden administration's weekly Covid-19 response briefings on the status of the government's vaccination and testing efforts.

Since authorising two vaccines in December, the United States has distributed nearly 50 million doses and administered over 31 million shots.

When asked how a third vaccine's authorisation could help speed up the government's goal of inoculating most Americans by the end of summer, Mr Slavitt said the authorisation of Johnson & Johnson's shot will not likely cause an immediate dramatic shift.

Ellume Chief Executive Officer Dr Sean Parsons holds a Covid-19 testing kit.
Ellume Chief Executive Officer Dr Sean Parsons holds up a Covid-19 testing kit. Source: Reuters

The drugmaker's commitment to supply 100 million doses of its one-shot vaccine to the government by the end of the second quarter will potentially only be met by the end of that contract period or June-end, he said.

"I would not at this point be overly confident that those doses would come evenly," Mr Slavitt said.

The US currently has more than 26.2 million cases of Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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