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11/21/2021 11:00 PM

Detect, Inc., Announces Major COVID Testing Innovation

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal speaks to attendees last week at the Guilford headquarters of Detect, Inc. for the company’s announcement of a rapid, over-the-counter COVID test, which will be available in a few weeks. Photo by Ben Rayner/The Courier

A local entrepreneur is announcing another technological innovation that will be an important tool in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Detect, Inc., of Guilford, founded by National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, has created an accurate, fast, and easy-to-use PCR-quality molecular COVID-19 test, according to the company.

The Guilford-based company announced last week that its PCR-quality, at-home rapid COVID-19 test received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over-the-counter home use. The Detect COVID-19 test is a unique molecular rapid test that combines the sensitivity of a PCR lab test with the convenience, simplicity, and scalability of a typical rapid test, according to company officials.

At an event held last week at the company’s headquarters in Guilford, all of the state’s top officials were on hand to attend the announcement of this innovation.

Rothberg, Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, State Senator Christine Cohen (D-12), and local leaders all praised the company’s fast development.

Lamont hailed Detect, Inc., for its advances in this filed and singled out the staff, led by Rothberg, who were vital in bringing about its development.

“Jonathan [Rothberg] has seen the convergence of life science and computer science and how its beginning to transform medicine. I think each and every one of you should be so proud that you’re on the cutting edge of making such an extraordinary difference,” Lamont said. “Jonathan was one of the very first people I reached out to [when the pandemic hit]. We realized really fast that we were never going to get through this thing unless we can get the same rapid diagnostics that we have achieved in some many other places, when it comes to this test. This is going to keep our kids in school, it is going to keep our businesses open, and this is how we get back to normal. You’ll be able to get this test before you are contagious and start the therapy to cure you.”

According to Rothberg, unlike traditional laboratory testing, the Detect COVID-19 test can be done entirely at home in one hour. When compared to a PCR test in clinical studies, the Detect COVID-19 test demonstrated 97.3 percent overall agreement, with 90.9 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity, which makes it among the most accurate tests available for home use, according to a statement from the company.

The Detect test will be available for purchase at in the coming weeks, with retail pricing under $50, making it the lowest priced at-home molecular test on the market and significantly less costly than PCR laboratory tests, the company said in a statement.

Rothberg said the test is designed to detect all currently circulating variants of concern including Delta. Detect uses state-of-the-art software to monitor all circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2 to ensure the test continues to maintain high accuracy as new variants appear, according to the company.

A company statement said that the test will also be used in schools and workplaces for regular screening programs, using a serial testing approach for anyone who does not have either symptoms or exposure, and for quality testing when individuals are symptomatic or exposed.

“The Detect COVID-19 test brings laboratory accuracy into the home, helping to mitigate COVID-19 transmission and make everyday activities safe and anxiety-free again,” said Rothberg. “As a complement to vaccines, highly accurate rapid testing will be critical as the pandemic becomes endemic. We developed the Detect COVID-19 test to help people return to doing the things they love with the people they love in the safest way possible.”

Another benefit is that to ensure that results can be used for travel and event entry, the company said in a statement. Detect is also developing an electronic travel pass system with an add-on telehealth service.

According to company officials, this will enable users to take the test under the virtual guidance of a healthcare professional, providing a verified result.

Bysiewicz told the Courier that the Detect team’s contributions are in keeping with the efforts of many businesses in the state and is a reflection of the dedication and diligence of Connecticut technology companies and their workers.

“During COVID, so many Connecticut entrepreneurs stepped up in a big way to respond to needs, whether it was companies that switched from making gin and spirits to making hand sanitizer, or companies that helped with cold storage to enable with the distribution of vaccines, companies have stepped up in a big way and Dr. Rothberg has this history of creativity and innovation and he is always focused on what human needs are out there and how we can address them,” said Bysiewicz.. This is an example of a public-private partnership, which the governor and I have been encouraging.

“To have a true rapid test that can be used by all kinds of employers to keep people safe is a win-win for everybody,” she continued. “You have a great company creating jobs, and a great company addressing human needs by keeping people safe. Testing is keeping people safe.”

First Selectman Matt Hoey praised the efforts of Rothberg and his staff and their accomplishment in getting this vital product to the market so quickly.

“It is wonderful to see this day come. The innovations and changes that are coming about as a result of the work that they are doing here are going to affect people throughout the country and the world are, and we couldn’t be prouder to have them call Guilford their home,” said Hoey.

Rothberg received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for inventing next-generation DNA sequencing, and leads 4Catalyzer, the biotechnology incubator that launched several other successful health technology companies, including Butterfly Network, Quantum-Si, and Hyperfine.

“Detect’s proprietary technology puts the complex nucleic acid amplification process into an easy-to-use and affordable format, bringing the gold standard of Covid-19 testing into the home,” says Eric Kauderer-Abrams, chief technology officer of Detect, Inc. “Detect is helping to create a future in which home testing can bring peace of mind to everyone, without compromising quality and accuracy.”

The company is expecting that this technology will serve as a foundation for future home tests for other viruses, such as influenza and STIs.

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