Vatic was founded in October 2019 by Alex Sheppard and Dr. Mona Kab Omir.
When the first wave of COVID-19 started in the UK in early 2020, our team immediately saw an opportunity to contribute to global efforts to tackle the pandemic, and leveraged work already underway on antigen testing to quickly start developing the KnowNowᵀᴹ Test.
The adjective "vatic" means "describing or predicting what will happen in the future," and derives directly from the Latin word vates, meaning "seer" or "prophet."
We chose this name as it speaks to our mission to make healthcare more proactive and empowering, through predictive screening for acute disease.
KnowNowᵀᴹ Tests have been invented, developed and manufactured in the UK.
There have been questions raised around the sensitivity of rapid lateral flow antigen testing for SARS-CoV-2 as compared to PCR testing. However, these questions have been strongly challenged by the scientific community.
PCR tests identify the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the body, regardless of whether the virus is actively infectious. The PCR testing process amplifies the genetic code of the virus so that even minuscule amounts of the virus in the sample can be picked up. This makes for a powerful test, but since viral fragments can linger in the body for weeks even after the infection has cleared, infected individuals being tested using PCR will show as positive for a median period of 22–33 days in total. On the other hand, most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are contagious only for 4–8 days.
So whilst PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 may have been considered the "gold standard" test up until now, it will by definition show different results when compared to lateral flow tests which aim to identify individuals based on viral loads which suggest they are within their infectious window. This discrepancy between what each test is actually testing for has caused some issues where PCR testing has been used to evaluate the effectiveness of lateral flow tests, such as in the mass testing rolled out in Liverpool in November 2020.
The KnowNowᵀᴹ Test goes a step beyond other lateral flow tests with its unique, patented detection mechanism which only shows a positive result when live infectious virus is identified in the sample. As a result, PCR tests will similarly show different results to the KnowNowᵀᴹ Test in certain cases, since they will show positive results even for individuals outside of their infectious period.
For a much more comprehensive and referenced answer, you may like to read "Clarifying the evidence on SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid tests in public health responses to COVID-19" from the Lancet.
The KnowNowᵀᴹ Test has been invented, developed and manufactured in the UK by Senseutics Limited, trading as Vatic.
The mechanism underpinning the KnowNowᵀᴹ test mimics the means through which the virus interacts with the surface of a human cell in order to detect it. As a result, we expect that it will continue to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus even in the face of further potential mutation in the future, unlike tests based on antibodies.
We have modelled the difference between the Wuhan and 501Y mutations in a recombinant protein model to give us initial analytical evidence that the KnowNow test reacts to these variations of concern. And we are currently carrying out a study on live samples of these and other mutations to gather practical evidence of this.
In fact, we predict that the KnowNowᵀᴹ test may potentially become even more sensitive as the virus mutates to become more infectious. And we will continue to carry out further analyses and studies to support this prediction, and confirm that KnowNow continues to function on newer mutations as they arise.
The KnowNowᵀᴹ Test and COVID-19 antibody tests test for completely different things.
Antibody tests identify whether someone has had coronavirus in the past, whereas the KnowNowᵀᴹ Test detects whether an individual is currently infectious.
Antibody testing involves detecting the immune response in the human body to having fought off a virus. These tests look for an antibody created in the bloodstream in response to the presence of a virus in that environment. This is useful when testing the effectiveness of a vaccine, or understanding how far and wide a virus has spread. However, it is of limited usefulness to individuals, as it is only able to identify whether an individual has fought off the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the past. It cannot effectively confirm whether they are currently infected, or infectious.
Receiving a negative result means that the individual tested does not have any live virus in the sample provided and is not currently infectious to others. However, it's important to be aware that they could still be exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus following the test. It could also be possible that the individual tested has already been exposed to the virus 1 or 2 days ago, and they have not yet become infectious to others.
As a result, we recommend that individuals are tested as regularly as possible to keep workplaces and communities safe. Depending on the scenario, we would recommend testing is repeated every 1 to 3 days.
At the moment, KnowNowᵀᴹ Tests are for professional use only, meaning that they need to be administered by a trained healthcare professional. This means that we can take orders from organisations that have in-house or outsourced healthcare professionals who can perform the tests, or testing service providers.
However, since the KnowNowᵀᴹ Test needs just a saliva sample, it is much easier to administer effectively than other similar tests, and still return highly sensitive results. So we are investigating whether specially-trained, competent individuals could be approved to administer KnowNow tests as well.
We are also in the process of trialling and seeking approval for a variation of the KnowNow test which could be administered by individuals themselves.
If you have already activated your sample pack please go to the activation link that we emailed to you. Alternatively, if you fill in your email again we will re-send the activation link to you.
The KnowNowᵀᴹ Test's specificity is 99.9%. In more than 300 negative patient saliva samples, it hasn’t returned a single false positive result.
This is so important for getting life back to normal. We don't want anyone to be stopped from going to work, heading off on holiday or socialising at events, when actually it would be perfectly safe for them to do these things.
Specificity is particularly important when disease prevalence is low and tests are intended to be used at enormous scale. For example, if a test with just a 3% false positive rate is used on one million people per day, that would result in 30,000 people per day being falsely identified as infectious with COVID-19 and being unnecessarily asked to self-isolate.