We are excited to announce that our story has been picked up by Sky News:
"British company to launch world’s first affordable saliva test for COVID-19 crisis
LONDON - Vatic, a newly established UK-born healthtech company, is launching the world’s first on-the-spot-result saliva test to identify current COVID-19 infections and, uniquely, who is infectious and can pass on the virus.
Why the technology is different and an advance
The KnowNow COVID-19 test is unique in that it is easy-to-do via a simple salivary swab and is designed to work on the spot - for example at an airport or queue for a live event. It provides an accurate result in under 15 minutes combined with accessible pricing per test based on application. The test will be ‘CE Marked’ (for safety assurance) and available to buy in January.
Although built on the widely known lateral flow platform, Vatic says this will be the first commercial test of its kind in the world. Its technology identifies COVID-positive people before they become infectious - based on a small saliva sample. Vatic’s founders believe this will help to reopen society such as public transport and sporting, cultural and festival events while keeping people safe.
The company’s technology - founded by a partnership of UK and Danish scientists - works as a ‘trapdoor’ using the COVID-19 virus' own mechanism of cell entry as a means of generating signal. Harmless viral matter/ remnant signals will not be detected so providing a more robust and timelier indicator. Virtually every other antigen test works by detecting the nucleocapsid protein in the centre of the virus (not a true measure of infectivity and not as specific an identifier).
The KnowNow COVID-19 test is an accurate identifier of infectiousness by detecting the spike protein on the surface of the virus. It detects the virus by mimicking the properties of a human cell, ‘tricking’ the virus into reacting with it, and thereby creating a signal visible to the naked eye. KnowNow tests don't require access to power or other equipment to work. They can be used anywhere to get results fast.
How it works:
Vatic CEO and co-founder, Alex Sheppard, said, “We are radically rethinking how people access screening for COVID-19. To re-open society and make communities safer we need testing that is rapid, on the spot and scalable. We can provide a safe robust test with results in minutes.”
Alex added, “Regular, accessible COVID-19 infectivity screening is needed for us to do many of the things we are currently missing out on. For example, if we know we are not infectious then we can attend cultural events, see our family, go to work or go on holiday, without fear that we will do harm to those around us.
“Our much-loved social institutions and services can reopen safely such as schools, stadiums, airports, seaports, train stations and pubs, restaurants and nightclubs. We are already working under commercial confidentiality with an international airport and two global entertainment companies. The test is also easy to do - so avoiding an unpleasant back of throat swab, which is challenging to get a reliable sample from, or prolonged wait for a lab test.”
Vatic Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Dr Mona Kab Omir, said, “The more we can encourage and enable regular testing across the population - giving people clarity about whether they are infected (and, critically, infectious), the quicker our lives will start to look more ‘normal’. Where a typical antigen test identifies the presence of harmless viral matter, our test identifies the infectiousness of the people who are tested. Significantly, the detection methodology underpinning the test is immune to potential mutation of the virus in the future, unlike tests based on antibodies.”
Vatic Medical Adviser, Dr Jack Kreindler, said, “We believe this technology will prove to have the scientific efficacy, medical practicality and affordability to help restore life to near-normal, alongside the vaccines, to overcome what is the greatest public health, and economic health crises in living memory. Our test technology was in development well before COVID-19 yet 2020 has demonstrated just how flexible the technology is and potentially its ability to put accurate diagnostics into the very hands of everyone.
Vatic is backed by key investors including Hoxton Ventures and LocalGlobe. Rob Kniaz, partner at Hoxton Ventures, said, “We think this technology has the potential to be the 'holy grail' of COVID testing based on the price and performance of the product. No other tests offer this powerful combination to make testing an affordable daily option for front-line workers, travellers and many more.”
Julia Hawkins, partner at LocalGlobe, said, “The team at Vatic have worked incredibly hard to get KnowNow technology to the stage where it’s ready to release to market. Their combined technology and science expertise has created a product which can not only roll out and support the economy to get back to normal, but one that can be adapted in the future for on-the-spot predictive screening of other acute diseases. It’s an exciting breakthrough.”
Who Vatic are
Alex Sheppard and Dr Mona Kab Omir aim to make healthcare more proactive through on-the-spot predictive screening for acute diseases, starting with COVID-19. Alex has a background in bringing deeptech life science products from the bench to market, having run two startups simultaneously for four years.
Mona is an expert in chemistry, nanomedicine and clinical pharmacology, applying her pharma research background to drive innovation in diagnostics. They have developed and patented a globally unique test technology to support global efforts in pandemic recovery.
Both have performed numerous analytical and clinical assessments, raised funding from three top tier London VCs, secured grant support from the University of Oxford and Innovate UK, and are ready to release their CE Marked (safety assurance) COVID-19 test in January 2021.
The company has the capacity through contract manufacturing partners based in the UK to reach 2 million tests per month in Q1 of 2021 and is already in the process of ramping up to potentially go significantly beyond this.
Notes to editors
For more information or interviews please contact Transatlantic Entertainment:
Beth Nicholson +44 7546 434967
* Data to date and test performance
We are committed to making this test accessible to all sectors and eventually to consumers
Who we are - leaders and investors
Alex Sheppard - Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
Dr Mona Kab Omir - Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer
Dr Jack Kreindler