SINGAPORE (Mar 30): Singapore-based medical technology firm Biolidics announced Monday it is launching a rapid test kit for Covid-19 that can detect the coronavirus within 10 minutes, with a claimed accuracy rate of 95%.

Biolidics has obtained provisional authorisation from Singapore’s Health Science Authority for its rapid test kit to be used in Singapore.

Biolidic says it has entered into a manufacturer agreement with a diagnostic kit manufacturer to customise and manufacture the rapid test kits. The first batch of the rapid test kit is expected to be available in April.

The group says the rapid test kit has undergone “extensive validation” in compliance to ISO13485 requirements.

Currently, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is used to confirm patients with Covid-19. As this requires laboratory specialists and dedicated medical testing equipment, PCR testing for Covid-19 requires at least three hours to obtain the test results.

Using serum, plasma or whole blood samples, Biolidics’ rapid test kit significantly cuts down the time needed for the test results.

The group claims its rapid test kit is easy-to-use and can enable more effective and efficient decentralized screening among suspected patients.

As such, it says the test kits are suitable to be deployed at points of border entry as well as potential Covid-19 clusters.

In an email to The Edge Singapore, infectious disease specialist Dr Leong Hoe Nam warns that while there is value in this test, “it isn’t the panacea”.

Describing the test kit as “just an adjunct tool”, he points to some “serious limitations” in the ability of the test kit.

“It is based on the detection of antibodies. And from other similar kits that are developed elsewhere, the test may turn positive from Day 4 onwards with pickup of at least 90% between from Day 4 to Day 10,” Dr Leong writes. “It does not replace the current PCR in existence. And has severe weaknesses.”

 

Meanwhile, Biolidics is working closely with Clearbridge Health to obtain the relevant approval or authorisation from the various health authorities in the region for the use of the rapid test kit.

Biolidics aims to leverage Clearbridge’s distribution platform of healthcare solutions and technologies in Asia, particularly in Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Clearbridge owns a close to 25% stake in Biolidics.

“Testing for Covid-19 is vital to track and contain the pandemic which has spread rapidly across the world,” says Dr Leong Man Chun, interim chief executive officer of Biolidics,

“Utilising Biolidics’ rapid test kit, we can enable point-of-care testing for larger pool of clusters, resulting in more effective and efficient decentralized screening among suspected cases. With faster and accurate results, it can guide treatment decisions and further enhance public safety measures,” he adds.

Biolidics chairman Jeremy Yee notes that developing affordable, accurate test kits for Covid-19 has been “one of the biggest challenges in the pandemic”.

“I would like to express special thanks to the collective efforts and commitment of our team to accelerate the development and commercialisation of our rapid test kit for Covid-19,” Yee says.

Shares in Biolidics jumped 7.3%, or up 1.5 cents, to close at 22 cents on Monday, before the announcement. Meanwhile, shares in Clearbridge closed flat at 10.5 cents.