NEW YORK – The UK government will invest £23 million ($28 million) in the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) to support the development of rapid tests for SARS-CoV-2, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
The investment was made through the UK Department for International Development, both to address the pandemic immediately as well as to build the infrastructure for managing future health crises.
FIND CEO Catharina Boehme said the UK has played a "significant role" in coronavirus research, and said the investment will help put "infrastructure and technological capabilities in place that will help us shore up diagnostic gaps in global health security and ensure we are ready to tackle future outbreaks."
The Geneva, Switzerland-based nonprofit also said it will use the funding to invest in manufacturing scale-up, including rapid testing technology under development at Mologic, as well as DiaTropix, a manufacturing facility based at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal.
Bedford, UK-based Mologic is developing two assays using its lateral flow immunoassay platform. The company received a £1 million grant from the UK government earlier this month.
FIND said it is also working to make SARS-CoV-2 testing more available in low- and middle-income countries by supporting diagnostic capacity as well as community-based screening and testing.
The organization is also offering evaluations of new tests. Last month, FIND issued an expression of interest (EOI) to companies developing tests for SARS-CoV-2 to have their assays evaluated using a standardized, independent protocol.
Separately, FIND on Friday issued an open call to partners and laboratories for performance data on commercially available SARS-CoV-2 IVD tests that detect nucleic acid, viral antigen, or antibodies. FIND intends to create a hub for such data to "inform procurement and implement decisions for countries and health programs" especially those with limited resources, to conduct their own independent evaluations, the organization said in a statement.