Public health officials in the HSE and NHS are in talks with Co Antrim-based Randox about using its rapid Coronavirus test to help expand and speed up the diagnosis of Covid-19 cases in Ireland and Britain.
The diagnostics company has developed a test which uses its proprietary biochip array technology to identify Covid-19 and differentiate it from nine other respiratory infections.
It is understood that neither the HSE or the NHS has yet agreed terms with Randox, but the company is hoping to collaborate with both national health agencies on the pandemic.
Randox uses a special autoanalyser that it also developed to process its coronavirus test, which can in turn process 54 patient samples simultaneously and deliver results in less than five hours.
The company has already shipped its Covid-19 test kits to hospitals in China, where they are currently in use.
Randox has stepped up its manufacturing operation in Co Antrim to escalate production of its Covid-19 test kits because it anticipates that governments will come under pressure, particularly in Europe, to test increasing numbers of people.
Since it launched its test kit last month the company has seen strong demand for the product from governments and health authorities across the globe, including Japan, Spain and the Philippines. It is also currently in “active discussions” with more than 50 sites across Italy.
In addition to its work with health authorities and governments, the company has also launched a self-test Covid-19 test kit priced at £120 (€137). These kits will be on sale via the company’s website.
Separately, Assay Genie, a brand of Dublin-based pharmaceutical group Reagent Genie, is also working on a coronavirus blood test that it hopes will allow frontline staff to test for Covid-19 in 15 minutes.
The rapid point-of-care kit uses “lateral flow technology”, and will produce results with just one drop of blood.
The company wants to provide 100 tests free of charge to a testing laboratory over coming days, and would then hope to have 5,000 tests available in the State over the next 10 days.