Avacta responds to reports regarding its rapid Covid-19 testing systems

Yorkshire healthcare firm Avacta has been forced to issue clarifications about its rapid Covid-19 tests following inaccurate reports in the media over the weekend.

The Wetherby-based group responded to speculation on take-up of its lateral flow rapid antigen test for Covid-19 by the UK government .

The AIM-traded firm said that it has seen "excellent performance" of the test in identifying patients with an infectious viral load, with 96.7% sensitivity and 100% specificity using anterior nasal swab samples from 30 COVID-19 positive patients and 26 negative individuals.

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The company is now progressing to a full clinical validation with a larger number of patient samples in order to obtain a CE mark for the test for professional use, aiming to bring the test to market in Europe around the end of the first quarter of this year.

However a press report this weekend incorrectly stated that a saliva-based rapid antigen test from Avacta had been evaluated at Porton Down.

A spokesperson said: "In fact, the evaluated test was the anterior nasal swab test that has subsequently generated the excellent initial clinical performance data outlined above.

“However, in its evaluation Porton Down used artificial samples and did not use clinical samples.”

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Avacta said it believed an accurate, rapid, “appropriately validated” antigen test would help to limit the spread of Covid-19, and support a “safe return” to normal life.

“In the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care is a potential customer and partner in the roll out of such a validated test.

“While Avacta continues to be in dialogue with the department, and with other organisations in the UK and abroad, with a view to future supply of its rapid antigen test, it is prioritising the full clinical validation of its nasal swab-based SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test as a prerequisite for CE marking and broad commercialisation.”