Home testing service LetsGetChecked said it is ready to begin offering home-based tests for coronavirus, concentrating initially on front-line healthcare workers and vulnerable groups.
The Dublin-based company has written to the Minister for Health and the HSE offering its services for testing of suspected cases.
The company, which has more than 160 employees, has a two-part test for coronavirus, with a blood test that will give immediate results about an active infection, and a lab test that will confirm the results within 24 hours.
LetsGetChecked will also offer the testing in the US, where it has a high complexity lab it established in 2019. The capacity of the LetsGetChecked US laboratory is being scaled up to carry out 10,000 tests daily, with plans to increase that to up to 100,000 tests per day within approximately the next two months.
The company is also working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have an emergency use application (EUA) approved for use by customers to test in the home.
The test will be offered at cost, and the company is hoping to help speed up the identification of infections and halt the spread of the disease.
Chief executive Peter Foley said the company was in a unique position to act quickly and help frontline health workers to get tested safely.
“We do the whole manufacturing, supply chain and customer engagement around the mobile applications so you can access the results of your test. What we set the company up for was to genuinely help people,” he said.
“When this broke in January, we downed tools on everything else we were doing and have just run at this to try to be part of the solution.”
Mr Foley said the two-part test was essential to ensure a high rate of accuracy.
Equally important was not flooding the market with tests, he said.
“Testing is hugely important, but we don’t want to overstretch an already overstretched healthcare system.
“If we are able to open a dialogue with the health ministry and the Government, then I see no reason why we couldn’t start offering the two-part at-home test to frontline healthcare providers and key workers by mid-April,” Mr Foley said.
LetsGetChecked has offered its screening model to more than 335,000 people in the past five years, with 13,500 infections and diseases detected. It will continue to offer diagnostic tests to clients during the coronavirus outbreak.
"We are in the midst of a global pandemic, the magnitude of which we are still trying to understand. The best way to contain it is through sensible steps to stop the spread. Beyond that, it's testing. Test, test, test. The introduction of at-home testing would be a game-changer in the ability to detect the infection and support those healthcare workers on the frontline," said Dr Robert Mordkin, Chief Medical Officer for LetsGetChecked.
“LetsGetChecked’s tried and tested logistics infrastructure is designed for getting at-home screening kits into the hands of patients and then back into our lab for analysis in the most efficient and safest way possible, but it requires Government support.”