San Diego Company Gets $13 Million Contract to Develop COVID-19 Test

NBC 5 News

A San Diego-based healthcare technology company has been awarded a $13 million federal contract to fund the development of its coronavirus diagnostic test, which the company says would provide results in under 25 minutes.

Cue Health says its test would use a nasal swab and portable devices to provide quick test results, eventually for home use or in the community.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority -- or BARDA -- in order to accelerate the test's development, validation and FDA clearance, according to Cue Health CEO Ayub Khattak.

"We aim to help provide a diagnostic shield for people at home, their business and the healthcare system that will allow us to gain the upper hand against viral threats now and in the future,'' Khattak said.

"We have worked with the BARDA team for the past two years developing and testing a 20-minute, molecular influenza test designed for home and point-of-care use," the CEO said. "Our connected platform could serve as a critical tool in identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Rather than waiting days for results or sending samples off to a lab, having test results in 25 minutes could drastically improve our ability to contain the spread of the virus for this and future pandemics.''

Khattak said the company plans to provide tests to "thousands of clinics, schools, eldercare facilities and homes."

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BARDA also recently provided funding to San Diego-based Mesa Biotech Inc. for its diagnostic test, which the company said would provide results in about 30 minutes.

Mesa has since received fast-track approval from the FDA for its test, as have San Diego's Hologic Inc. and Quidel Corp. and Carlsbad's Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and GenMark.

"We are committed to making rapid point-of-care tests to detect SARS-CoV-2 available as quickly as possible," BARDA Director Rick Bright said.

"Tests that can be used reliably in alternate care sites will provide faster results to more people. Public-private partnerships are essential in providing solutions to curb the spread of COVID-19 now and also to mitigate future coronavirus outbreaks."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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