Covid testing start-up raises £15m for rapid cold and flu tests

A British biotech start-up that has created rapid PCR tests to stop coronavirus outbreaks on film sets has raised £15m to develop tests that can diagnose whether people have Covid-19, the flu or a cold at the same time.

Newcastle-based QuantuMDx said it had secured the latest cash from Hong Kong venture capital firm Vita Spring, coming just eight months after it raised £11m in a round that included the Government’s Future Fund.

It currently develops 30-minute PCR tests that are used to spot outbreaks early on film sets and in offices in the UK, but are yet to be available on the NHS.

By next year, QuantuMDx expects to have developed new tests that can detect other viruses, such as the flu or respiratory syncytial virus, in addition to Covid-19.

Jonathan O’Halloran, chief executive, said there had been a shift during the pandemic toward a willingness among people to do regular testing and take measures to prevent the spread of any virus.

He said: “People are now taking control of their own healthcare and testing themselves more and more. It’s definitely a behavioural change.

“People used to soldier on and carry on going to work with a cold, but now people recognise it’s so easy to pass on viruses that the first thing people do is test themselves and see if they’ve got Covid. There’s more of an acceptance of testing, which is great for our industry and great for the next pandemic.”

The company is also looking at how it can create similar multi-target tests to help identify sexually transmitted diseases without the need for patients to see a doctor to receive a diagnosis.

Mr O’Halloran said: “It is really important when you’re thinking about community-based testing, things like pharmacy-based testing or GP-based testing, where you don’t necessarily have the luxury of having a doctor present, where science can just do the diagnosis for you.”

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