February 28, 2020 / 8:42 AM / a month ago

Biotech group Novacyt announces deals for coronavirus test product

PARIS (Reuters) - Biotechnology company Novacyt (ALNOV.PA) (NCYT.L) on Friday announced deals for its “Primerdesign” product which is aimed at testing for the coronavirus currently afflicting China and other parts of the world.

A sanitation worker rides a vehicle near an image depicting the Hankou Customs House in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hubei province, China February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT.

Novacyt said it had signed its first major distribution agreement for the COVID-19 coronavirus test with a global life sciences company to supply the test to two Asian territories outside mainland China, sending its shares to record highs.

It added that initial sales from this, which are subject to local emergency use approval, were anticipated to total 2.1 million pounds ($2.73 million) in the first six months of the agreement.

Novacyt also announced a manufacturing deal with an unnamed U.S. healthcare company.

“The two contracts announced today reinforce how quickly the response to this virus is developing and shows our commitment to support these efforts anywhere in the world,” Novacyt CEO Graham Mullis said.

Novacyt’s progress in its coronavirus test product has lifted the company’s shares - which are quoted on both the Paris and London markets - to record highs.

The stock was up by around 20% in early trade in Paris, and the company’s stock price has surged more than 800% on the Paris market since the start of 2020.

Most of the testing on the coronavirus is being done by public health laboratories, but many companies around the world - such as Novacyt and others - are working on tests.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (TMO.N), GenScript Biotech Corp (1548.HK) and Co-Diagnostics Inc (CODX.O) have developed tests and are taking steps to get them validated for clinical use.

Roche (ROG.S) is also distributing coronavirus tests developed by Tib Molbiol of Berlin for research use on some of its instruments while developing a test of its own. Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) is also working on a test.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Jason Neely

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