Novacyt signs distribution, manufacturing deals for COVID-19 test

Novacyt's shares rose as much as 30% on Friday after the company announced that it signed its first major distribution agreement with a global life sciences company to supply its CE-marked COVID-19 test to two Asian territories outside mainland China. Novacyt also announced a deal with an unnamed US healthcare firm for the manufacture and sale of its research-use-only coronavirus tests.

CEO Graham Mullis remarked that the two contracts "reinforce how quickly the response to this virus is developing and shows our commitment to support these efforts anywhere in the world." He also claimed the test, developed by Novacyt's Primerdesign molecular diagnostics division, "remains among the quickest and most accurate tests available for COVID-19."

According to Novacyt, over £900,000 ($1.2 million) worth of the CE-marked and research-use-only tests have been sold as of February 27. The company said that while it is involved in discussions "with representatives from a number of countries which have an acute need for tests as part of their national screening programmes, due to the high level of interest in the Primerdesign COVID-19 test and rapidly evolving nature of this outbreak, [we] cannot predict with any certainty the conversion rate of these ongoing enquiries into orders."

Under the deal with the global life sciences company, initial sales, which are expected to take place in March subject to local emergency-use approval, are projected to be £2.1 million ($2.7 million) during the first six months of the agreement.

Meanwhile, the Primerdesign test is currently under FDA review for emergency-use, while other health authorities, including Public Health England, are also assessing the product. The company said it has introduced a number of measures, such as using both of its UK manufacturing sites, to ramp up production capacity and that it "continues to plan for greater throughput to ensure Primerdesign can meet all current and potential demand."

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