Jamie Smyth in Sydney
The US government has awarded a $ 231.8 million contract to an Australian diagnostic company to ramp up production of the first Covid-19 home test kits available without a prescription.
Ellume, a Brisbane-based company, said the deal would make it possible to establish its first factory in the US and supply 8.5 million test kits to the US government to help tackle the pandemic.
The test consists of a nasal swab analyzer that connects to an application on users’ smartphones and provides fast results without sending samples to a lab.
It is the first non-prescription home self-testing kit to be approved in emergency situations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which hopes the technology can help control the spread of Covid-19. US authorities say the tests can yield results within 15 minutes, with about 95 percent accuracy.
“They can be used if you feel symptoms of COVID-19 and also for screening people without symptoms so they can go to work, school and events safely,” Andy Slavitt, a White House adviser, told me. a press conference.
The U.S. government provided a $ 30 million grant to help develop the single-use antigen tests, which are expected to cost $ 30 per set.
Ellume said it would deliver 100,000 tests per month from its Australian manufacturing facility until the new US plant is built.
At its full capacity, the US facility will be able to produce up to 19 million tests per month, the Australian company said in a statement.
“We are prioritizing our partnership with the US government to mobilize testing quickly and in the most impactful way,” said Dr. Sean Parsons, founder of Ellume. “We will fulfill the order for these tests as we ramp up output in our manufacturing facilities, opening up more opportunities for use in retail and private settings in the future.”