Boohoo co-founder signs deal to sell Covid-19 home testing kits online

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A Covid-19 home testing kit, thought to be the first of its kind, will be sold off by a company owned by BooHoo’s billionaire co-founder. 

Avacta Life Sciences is developing an antigen test that uses saliva to test for coronavirus, with hopes it will give a result within 10 minutes, The Guardian reports. 

Today the firm signed an exclusive agreement with Medusa19, which was set up by Mahmud Kamani, co-founder of BooHoo, to sell the tests online.

Billionaire Mahmud Kamani, pictured with his wife Aisha, will sell a home testing kit that could deliver results in around 10 minutes 

Avacta Life Sciences in Cambridge is developing a home testing kit which it hopes will be available to buy in the UK from July

Avacta Life Sciences in Cambridge is developing a home testing kit which it hopes will be available to buy in the UK from July

According to The Guardian, the test would sell for around £25, similar to the cost of a commercial HIV test, but the cost would be lower if it was bought in bulk by a health organisation or company. 

Alistair Smith, Avacta’s chief executive, said: ‘The potential size of this market, and the expected demand from businesses for workforce screening, is substantial.’   

Most coronavirus tests, including those at mobile testing units across the UK, are swab tests, known as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which aims to pick up on active viruses currently in the bloodstream.

A PCR test works by a sample of someone’s genetic material – their RNA – being taken to lab and worked up in a full map of their DNA at the time of the test.

Mahmud Kamani's company Medusa19 will sell the home testing kit for around £25

Mahmud Kamani’s company Medusa19 will sell the home testing kit for around £25

This DNA can then be scanned to find evidence of the virus’s DNA, which will be embroiled with the patient’s own if they are infected at the time.

Antigens are parts of a virus that trigger the immune system’s response to fight the infection, and can show up in blood before antibodies are made.

The key advantage of antigen tests is that it can take several days for the immune system to develop enough antibodies to be picked up by a test, whereas antigens can be seen almost immediately after infection. 

Development of the kit, which would look similar to a pregnancy test, still needs to be developed and approved by regulators, but Avacta hopes to it will be available in July.  

Mr Kamani's son Umar co-founded fashion retailer prettylittlething.com in 2012 with his brother Adam

Mr Kamani’s son Umar co-founded fashion retailer prettylittlething.com in 2012 with his brother Adam

Businesses are understood to be interested in the product as a way of testing staff before they return to work, as lockdown measures ease.

In a joint statement, Medusa19 founders Mr Kamani and Richard Hughes said: ‘Given this test will be saliva based, it could be used in airports, offices, factories and in the home environment, providing a result within minutes and with no requirement for medical supervision.’ 

Mr Kamani’s sons Adam and Umar founded fashion retailer prettylittlething.com in 2012. 

Around 0.25 per cent of the population is believed to be infected with the virus right now – around 137,500 people, with a possible range of 85,000 to 208,000 – and experts say the rate of infection is ‘relatively stable’.

This proportion has dropped by a tiny amount in the past week, from 0.27 per cent last Thursday, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The government’s statistics body calculated the data using test results from 14,599 people in 7,054 households across the country.

Only 35 out of the 14,599 people tested positive for COVID-19 when they were swabbed at some point between May 4 and May 17. 

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