The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the US has contracted Vela Diagnostics to support the development of Covid-19 tests.

The $225,000 contract will enable Vela Diagnostics to carry out verification and clinical validation of the ViroKey SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test.

A probe-based reverse transcription PCR test, the ViroKey SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test is designed to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19.

The agreement with BARDA is expected to help the company to expedite emergency use authorisation (EUA) submission to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Additionally, the Covid-19 tests can be used in manual and automated workflows.

Vela Diagnostics acting CEO and chairman of the Board Sam Dajani said: “High-throughput detection of SARS-CoV-2 using our automated workflow will provide rapid and valuable information to save lives.

“The funding from BARDA will enable Vela Diagnostics to increase the domestic and global testing capacity for Covid-19 to curb further spread of the virus.”

The automated ViroKey SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test is carried out on a workflow featuring the Sentosa SX101 instrument with the Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast Dx Real-Time (ABI 7500 Fast Dx) PCR instrument or the Sentosa SA201 instrument.

It can process up to 48 samples in a single run.

The manual assay allows flexible sample processing and enables laboratories with existing ABI 7500 Fast Dx instruments to use the test.

BARDA director Rick Bright said: “Rapid diagnostic tests put the essential information into the hands of healthcare providers and patients to manage patient care safely and appropriately.

“Data gathered from high-throughput testing aids public health officials in making decisions about community mitigation to combat the pandemic.”

Globally, Covid-19 has affected 199 countries, while the number of confirmed cases has reached 2.4 million.

The virus has killed more than 170,000 people around the world.