Via Kristy Dorsey
After posting a £ 1.8 million loss in the six months to the end of September, Omega Diagnostics has underlined the strength of its market prospects outside Covid test kits.
The increase in the pre-tax deficit from £ 331,000 in the same period last year was predicted as food allergy revenues were affected by the pandemic. Sales fell 38 percent in this sector, with declines in most geographic regions, but in North America and Europe in particular.
Omega noted, however, that sales of food intolerance have now recovered, with double-digit growth in October and November. Meanwhile, having earned WHO prequalification, the Visitect CD4 test for HIV patient management is on track for use by the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
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Those advances are expected to lead to “significantly improved” results in the second half of the year, along with the company’s widely reported involvement in developing tests to detect Covid-19.
Asked about the shift in tone to further emphasize food intolerance and CD4 firms, CEO Colin King said, “What we’re trying to convey today is that we’re not just a company focused solely on Covid.”
News of participation in many collaborations for Covid test production has guided Omega’s share price over the year. The firm is a member of the UK Rapid Test Consortium (UK-RTC) and has also collaborated with Mologic, which is headquartered in Bedfordshire.
From 60 in May, the headcount at its Alva headquarters rose to 122, and the construction of a £ 1 million production expansion is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. This will raise capability by April from 500,000 to two million tests per week. In the coming months, a further 70 to 80 workers are to be hired.
At its Alva headquarters, Omega is increasing its employees, while Covid test production is increasing.
This would make it possible for Omega to deliver a quarter of the first million tests ordered by the UK government earlier this year, and at least that percentage of total government supply contract orders over the life of the government.
Mr. King said Omega predicts that the bulk of demand will be for rapid antigen tests in the first half of 2021, verifying whether a person is currently infected. The demand is expected to change later in the year in favor of antibody tests that decide whether a person has previously had the disease and develops natural defenses against it.
As health researchers look to monitor the durability of immunity from a vaccination, the antibody test is planned to be used in parallel with a vaccine.
“We have set up our [manufacturing]capacity to cover both areas, whether the demand is for antigen or antibody testing,” King said.
Yesterday, shares in AIM-quoted Omega rose 3p to 49.5p.