Coronavirus: Small listed-company delivering 288,000 COVID-19 tests a week to NHS

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Novacyt is to deliver 288,000 COVID-19 tests a week for use by the NHS. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

A company listed on the London Stock Exchange's international market for smaller growing companies, Novacyt (NCYT.L), just announced an agreement with the UK government to deliver 288,000 COVID-19 tests a week.

The group said in a statement that it had signed a contract with the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for its COVID-19 (CE IVD) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, developed by Primerdesign, the company's molecular diagnostics division based in the UK.

Once the UK government receives the supply, it will send the tests onto the National Health Service (NHS). 

PCR tests and antibody testing are key ways authorities are testing people for COVID-19. It tests for even very small amounts of viral genetic material by taking samples from places likely to have the virus that causes COVID-19, such as the back of the nose or mouth or deep inside the lungs. 

“Novacyt is committed to fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Graham Mullis, CEO of Novacyt, which is based in Paris, France and Camberley, Surrey in the UK.

“This partnership with the UK's Department of Health and Social Care reinforces Novacyt's position as a leading supplier of COVID-19 tests to the NHS.”

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Under the terms of the agreement, Novacyt will supply its COVID-19 test to the DHSC for an initial term of six months, starting from 4 May 2020. Novacyt has initially committed to supply 288,000 tests per week to the DHSC for use in the NHS, with the option to expand the agreement.  

Shares in the group shot up over 22% in the opening session and have grown by nearly 3,000% since the beginning of the year. It now has a market capitalisation of around £252m ($313m), up from £50m just before the coronavirus pandemic.

Chart: Yahoo Finance

The number of people who have died from the coronavirus in UK hospitals breached the 20,000 mark over the weekend. Over 152,000 in Britain have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The latest figures suggest Britain tested only around 18,000 people on Monday, less than a fifth of the planned number with just over a week until the target date.

The UK government’s official target is conducting 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.