Hundreds of thousands of the Covid-19 tests will be available in the first months after the US launch, with monthly production capacity slated to quickly rise into the millions, Barra said.
Detect was founded by Jonathan Rothberg, who’s started multiple sequencing companies including Ion Torrent Systems, now owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Raindance Technologies, purchased in 2017 by Bio-Rad Laboratories. In 2016, Rothberg received a National Medal of Technology and Innovation from former president Barack Obama.
The new start-up has raised $110m (R1.76bn) from investors and was awarded $8.1m (R129.8m) by the National Institutes of Health through its Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics, or RADx, program.
An advantage of the approach is the ability to identify Covid-19 infections “long before you have enough virus to give it to someone else,” Rothberg said. “And because it’s so precise you don’t have false positives. And that’s the power of these PCR-like tests.”
Detect also offers a proctored version of the test through a partner so that it can be used while travelling and to verify results for employers with vaccination or testing mandates. The company aims to expand to other illnesses, including flu and other respiratory viruses, he said.
Barra had previously served as an adviser to Detect. He left Meta in May to join the start-up full-time.
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