Colm Ryan and Seán Mac Fhearraigh, of the Dublin-based Assay Genie, say that they are very close to bringing 15-minute COVID-19 antigen tests to the market that could be available in pharmacies for between €15 and €25.
“What the tests do is essentially determine if someone has the virus within 15 minutes," CEO of Assay Genie Colm Ryan told the Irish Independent.
“It’s a rapid alternative to PCR testing and allows people to quickly determine if they are positive or negative.
“It’s a nasal swab. You could go to a pharmacy, or have the test sent to your house, get a swab, wait 15 minutes and you get your results.”
According to the Irish Independent, similar tests are also available online but some are very expensive compared to those the Irish company plans to offer.
Ryan added: “Pharmacists are really interested in this test.
“If affordable rapid testing is rolled out, if everyone did a test and people put their hands up and said they have Covid-19 – and everyone with it isolates for 13 days – then technically the virus could be gone or down to zero or close to zero.”
Assay Genie first began testing their rapid COVID-19 tests back in March as the pandemic took grip around the world.
Ryan, who said he believes his company’s COVID-19 rapid test is 92 - 98 percent accurate, wants to see Ireland’s reproductive (“R”) number down to zero.
“I believe it’s manageable to get Covid down to that level," Ryan said, "it’s what we’re aiming for.”
On Tuesday, Ireland's Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that the R number across Ireland as of last week was between 0.98 and 1:
An update on COVID-19 and a thank you to everyone for the sacrifices they have made in recent weeks, from healthcare workers who continue to do everything they can for patients to kids who gave up trick or treating. We are on the right path 👏 pic.twitter.com/MMyc5N7U7Q— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) November 3, 2020
Ryan added that he believes a vaccine, which his company is also working to develop, will be rolled out in January, and that “we will get back to a type of normality late next year.”
Ryan and Seán Mac Fhearraigh, who met in 2012 while undergraduates studying genetics at Trinity College Dublin, are the cofounders of Reagent Genie, a life science reagents company with over 67,000 products across three premium brands: Assay Genie, ELISA Genie, and Antibody Genie.
Last month, Mac Fhearraigh, who serves as Assay Genie's chief technical officer, discussed in a column the four main action points he thinks should be a part of Ireland’s “exit strategy” for coronavirus - quadrant testing, testing on arrival into the country, scaling testing capabilities, and setting a national deadline for COVID-19 elimination.