Brisbane-based digital diagnostics company Ellume has landed a U.S. Department of Defense contract valued at $US231 million ($AUD302 million) to scale up production of COVID-19 home tests in the United States.
The sizeable agreement will enable an acceleration of the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test, the first rapid self-test that has been authorised by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both asymptomatic and symptomatic users. The test is also available without prescription and can be purchased for under $AUD40.
The home test, a nasal swab, will enable users to detect fragments of the COVID-19 virus. The results are sent to a smartphone app via Bluetooth in around 15 minutes, with Ellume reporting an accuracy rate of around 95%.
Ellume’s home test is not available in Australia.
Ellume has announced the investment will go towards supporting the company’s first manufacturing facility in the United States. Once completed, the new facility will raise Ellume’s global production capacity to over half a million tests per day and over 19 million tests every month.
“Our focus is enabling the U.S. to minimise community transmission and reopen as quickly as possible. The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is the only authorized test of its kind and is an essential tool for the broader pandemic response in the U.S.” said Dr. Sean Parsons, Ellume’s founder and CEO.
“We are prioritising our partnership with the U.S. Government to mobilise tests quickly and in the most impactful way. We will fulfill the order for these tests at the same time as we ramp up the output across our production facilities, creating more possibilities for retail and private institution use in the future.”
Until Ellume’s U.S. facility is complete, the agreement will find the company producing and delivering 100,000 test per month for the U.S. from its Australian manufacturing facility. The increase in volume will also see Ellume amplify its work force, expected to pass 500 staff members in the next few months from the 350 currently working at the Richlands, Brisbane facility.
The Ellume agreement is a key step in the U.S. government’s mission to curb the prolonged toll the pandemic is taking on the country.
In mid-January President Joe Biden presented the “American Rescue Plan,” a $US1.9 trillion proposal to end “a crisis of deep human suffering.” The Republicans have pitched a much smaller coronavirus aid package of $US618 billion.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have this week met with a group of Republican senators to discuss the matter further.