Manchester firm’s Covid-19 test begins international pilot

Medusa 19, the Manchester-based developer of a Rapid Saliva Protein Test (RSPT) for Covid-19, has launched a landmark trial with Madrid’s public universities.

The company was set up by Boohoo’s executive chairman Mahmud Kamani and corporate financier Richard Hughes earlier this year. It also has a distribution agreement with Leeds life sciences group Avacta to distribute its tests to consumers, and is selling tests online.

Madrid’s Vice President Ignacio Aguado said the test “could be a turning point in the detection of COVID-19”. He has announced his intention to roll out the Medusa 19 RSPT for mass testing widely across the city, including on public transport links, if the trials at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid are successful.

Christian Stephenson, chief development officer at Medusa 19, said: “This pilot is a huge first step to ensure that students across the world can safely return to full time education, as well as highlighting the benefits that saliva-based tests can also offer to businesses.

“With its speed of results, the Medusa 19 RSPT could indicate immune response at a much earlier stage than blood antibody tests, ensuring that individuals can quickly follow government guidelines and contain the virus.”

The pilot will see up to 1,500 students and staff members tested over a period of three weeks. It aims to prove that restrictions currently being placed on students can be reduced and that a return to full time education can be safely enabled by implementing a robust system of mass testing.

Medusa 19 aims to use its test to rebuild confidence in the global economy, with a system of mass testing ensuring that workplaces and schools and universities can remain open for business. The firm currently has 2m tests in stock, with capacity to scale manufacturing to 50m units a month in the next six to eight weeks.

Stephenson added: “With the capacity to scale up to 50m units a month, the RSPT test can also play a crucial role as a triage test supporting the UK and Spanish Governments to remove the bottleneck in PCR [Polymerase chain reaction] testing capacity. It also provides a result in minutes without the normal 24/48 hour delay with PCR results.

“A mass testing regime would enable businesses and universities to accurately filter those that require a PCR test with those that do not.”