Saliva COVID-19 testing kits expected in UK by July

The co-founder of Boohoo has partnered with Avacta to develop a 10-minute home saliva test for Coronavirus.

The antigen test will look similar to a pregnancy test, but will use a saliva sample rather than urine.

Current NHS home test kits swab the tonsils and nostrils, which can be uncomfortable and potentially less sensitive than saliva, according to a recent study published by Yale-backed research group medRxiv.

The test kit still needs to be approved by regulators, but it is expected to be available to buy in the UK in July.

Cambridge-based Avacta signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Medusa19, a company set up by Boohoo co-founder Mahmud Kamani and Richard Hughes, a former non-executive director of the online fashion brand.

Medusa19 will also have non-exclusive rights to supply the tests to businesses for workforce screening.

Kamani and Hughes commented: “Given this test will be saliva-based, it could be used in airports, offices, factories and in the home environment, providing a result within minutes and with no requirement for medical supervision.”

Avacta chief executive Alistair Smith said the price of the test would probably be similar to a commercial HIV test, which cost about £25, but could be lower if health organisations or businesses bought in bulk.

The company said inquiries had been made from firms that wanted to test staff to ensure they were healthy before they return to work, adding that it is looking for more partners to make the test strip.

“The potential size of this market, and the expected demand from businesses for workforce screening, is substantial,” added Smith.

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