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Brisbane company must move COVID test overseas - because Australians are just not sick enough

Business

A Brisbane-based developer of a rapid COVID-19 test kit is shifting its focus to overseas markets because Australians just aren’t sick enough.

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The company believes its saliva-based test kit has a far greater sensitivity than those currently available and recently won a $1.4 million grant from the Queensland Government to produce test strips at its Eight Mile Plains site and is completing validation studies, but it also needs to do clinical trials.

AnteoTech managing director Derek Thomson has written to shareholders to tell them that although it was on track to launch its test in the first quarter of 2021, it was likely that Australia would continue to have very low COVID-19 case numbers and authorities had not approved the use of COVID-19 antigen rapid test screening outside clinical settings in situations such as festivals and sporting events.

“We believe it prudent that our initial market focus should be in geographies with high patient volume and expressed need and approval for clinical solutions to help control the pandemic via rapid testing,” Thomson said.

“Low COVID numbers in Australia have made access to validated positive COVID-19 patients for the purposes of a prospective clinical trial more challenging.

“We are currently finalising an agreement to conduct a prospective clinical trial in India where the prevalence of (COVID-19) positive patients is much greater than Australia.”

The company is also in the final steps of a manufacturing transfer to a Spain-based company, Operon, for the mass production of the test kit.

Europe will be where Anteotech launches its product and distribution deals are being made.

The grant it received from the Palaszczuk Government would allow it to address challenges and increase the production of the test strips.

“However, production of test strips at Eight Mile Plains is not intended to increase to a marketable quantity in the short to medium term. The Australian-based manufacture of test kits in marketable quantities will be contracted to businesses in southeast Queensland,” Thomson said.

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