This startup just created a quick and accurate COVID test that only needs saliva and links to an app – TechCrunch

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We are entering a phase of the COVID-19 pandemic where transmission will skyrocket due to the Delta variant. But as vaccinations intensify around the world, the main cost to society will now no longer be overloading health services, but massive disruption to businesses, as staff are forced to isolate themselves with health care systems. tracking and traceability. Thus, biosecurity in the workplace (or any other setting for that matter) will be very important.

The paragraph you just read above is actually a paraphrase of the recent open letter sent by a number of prominent UK scientists to the government regarding the next phase of the pandemic.

So, if it is true that workplace biosecurity needs to be much more effective, then faster and better forms of testing will be needed. Now a British startup thinks it has solved the problem.

Biosecurity company Vatic has developed its “KnowNow” test for CoVID-19 which it says is more accurate than lateral flow tests, is faster, easier (only a swab from your mouth is needed) , allows sharing of test data, and even produces a “Passport” QR code to allow someone to access services or workplaces.

Vatic has now raised $ 6.37 million to deliver its home tests, starting with the one adapted to COVID-19.

The seed funding round was led by London-based venture capital firms LocalGlobe and Hoxton Ventures.

Founded in 2019, Vatic has built a saliva-based test that involves generating data at home. The company says the test takes less than 15 minutes and can identify people who are actually infectious at the time, rather than getting a false positive because the body has been fighting the infection. Existing antigen tests can have a false positive rate of 1 in 200.

Vatic test

The company says its test identifies infectious viruses by mimicking the surface of a human cell, effectively redefining how lateral flow assays are constructed and “improving their accuracy.”

Its KnowNow rapid saliva antigen test for COVID-19 is actually now in use in the UK after receiving CE mark approval in the UK. Ut combines its saliva test with an app that instantly shares home test results with health or other platforms. The saliva self-swab technique is obviously much easier to do and less uncomfortable than current lateral flow tests which require swabbing of the back of the throat and nasal passages. Vatic is also currently conducting clinical trials in the United States to obtain emergency use clearance from the FDA.

Alex Sheppard, co-founder and CEO of Vatic, explained: “One of the reasons for the recent decline in the use of Covid-19 rapid tests is the sampling technique – it is currently very uncomfortable and difficult to use. for the people. We must eliminate the pain of mass testing if we are to get back to normal in order to minimize the disruption caused by future COVID-19 outbreaks, whether in offices, schools, or nursing homes. This is why we have built supportive biosecurity technology to accompany the test, allowing users to generate their own unique QR codes to facilitate safe entry to the site.

How it works? Well, Vatic says its technology looks for the “spike” on the virus as a measure of infectivity, but also says it is immune to potential mutations in the virus, making it capable of testing for COVID-19 whatever whatever the variant.

Sheppard said the Vatic test is only the first iteration. It can also detect other infectious viruses by mimicking the surface of a human cell.

Sheppard told me, “We selected the part of the Coronavirus that uses its tip to enter human cells, almost like a hypodermic needle. This is the lump that primarily interacts on our test, and so, effectively, we mimic a human cell on our test, which is quite unique. It has a completely different motor than a normal lateral flow test because the chemistry that powers it is totally different.

The other aspect of the Vatic test is that it uses an app related to the saliva exchange test. When the test is complete, it produces an encrypted QR code.

“It’s not entirely different from what we see on NHS testing,” Sheppard told me, “but it’s a completely trust-based system, so you don’t have to compromise your health data. You do not write your home address on a government website. Sure, it syncs with government reportable disease reporting requirements, but it’s designed to ensure you know you’re not disclosing too much health data. It’s safe.

Sheppard and his co-founder Mona Omir met at the University of Oxford, as part of the Entrepreneur First Acceleration Program in September 2019, and then raised funds from London investors and provided support from the ‘Oxford Foundry / University of Oxford and Innovate UK.

Julia Hawkins, Partner at LocalGlobe, commented, “Vatic technology is the future of testing. It’s fantastic to hear how many great UK organizations are taking the lead and putting employee testing at the forefront of their disaster recovery plan. This new round of investment will be essential to ensure the successful roll-out of KnowNow tests in the UK and overseas and to revive economies with minimal disruption. “

Rob Kniaz, partner at Hoxton Ventures, added: “A swab containing only saliva is a real breakthrough in the world of uncomfortable and delicate rapid tests and the speed at which the Vatic team has brought it to market is very. impressive. Exciting for the business, this testing is just the start of their journey – the opportunities to innovate in the home testing market are endless.


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