Brisbane-based biotech company Ellume Health has won a $303 million contract with the US government to supply home COVID-19 tests.
CEO and founder of Ellume, Dr Sean Parsons, said he hoped the test would help minimise community transmission in the US.
“The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is the only authorised test of its kind and is an essential tool for the broader pandemic response in the US,” he said in a statement.
“We are prioritizing our partnership with the US government to mobilise tests quickly and in the most impactful way.
“We will fulfill the order for these tests at the same time as we ramp up the output across our production facilities, creating more possibilities for retail and private institution use in the future.”
The first batch of Ellume testing kits – made in a Brisbane manufacturing facility – has already been sent to the US and Ellume aims to send 100,000 tests from Australia each month until its US facility is complete later this year.
The test kits include a nasal swab, dropper, processing fluid and an analyser that connects to your smart phone via Bluetooth.
Users download the app that runs them through instructions on how to take the test – it doesn’t need to be as deep as the common nasopharyngeal swab – and input it to the analyser.
The swab is then analysed and informs the user of their positive or negative result via the app in 15 minutes or less.
The app can also report results to state departments and health authorities for monitoring.
According to Ellume, the analyser technology is “powered by unique quantum dot nanoparticles and integrates optics, electronics, biologics and software” to detect disease.
US health regulator the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ellume’s rapid test last December, noting that there was “no adequate, approved, and available alternative” to the Ellume test for quickly diagnosing COVID-19 in the ongoing health emergency.
Over the past week, the US has averaged nearly 150,000 new cases each day of the disease which has already claimed over 440,000 lives in the US.
New case numbers are now dropping from a 7-day high of 300,000 at the start of January and one million Americans are receiving a vaccine dose each day.
Legislation in Australia prohibits the sale of self-tests for serious infectious diseases like COVID-19.