Brisbane-based medical technology company Ellume has sent its first shipment of rapid COVID-19 home testing kits to the USA today, with plans to send 20 million tests to the country by the end of 2021.
The exports to the USA - where to date there have been more than 410,000 deaths from the virus and almost 25 million reported cases - are part of a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative to scale up production with US$30 million (AUD$40 million) in support of the Australian company.
Founded by 2020 Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year Dr Sean Parsons, Ellume harnessed its years of development in fluorescent immunoassay technology to find a fast detection solution for COVID-19.
In December its efforts were rewarded with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the testing kits.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Steven Miles visited Ellume's Richlands facility to congratulate the company on its achievement.
"Ellume is another successful Queensland manufacturer rolling up its sleeves to fight the global pandemic and employing hundreds of Queenslanders to do so," Minister Miles said.
"We have the best manufacturers in Queensland, and we will always back them, as we continue our economic recovery and create jobs."
Miles confirmed the Queensland Government was providing funding to the company from the Essential Goods and Supply Chain program, announced in May 2020.
"This funding will allow Ellume to increase manufacturing of its suite of rapid testing kits at its new facility in Richlands," he said.
"The company's 300-plus employees currently working at the Richlands production laboratory are currently scaling up to manufacture more than 200,000 testing kits a day, and at full capacity, the facility will be capable of producing 10 million tests a month."
Ellume CEO Sean Parsons said the funding would allow the company to install state-of-the-art automated production lines to assemble its suite of rapid COVID-19 tests for export.
"The funds from the State Government will greatly assist in upscaling manufacturing to meet the growing demand for Ellume's products, providing greater supply security," Dr Parsons said.
"This is world-leading and life-saving diagnostic testing technology, created and manufactured right here in Queensland."
Miles said Queensland was in an enviable position thanks to the hard work of all Queenslanders.
"Thanks to our world-best health response, Queensland has avoided the significant case numbers experienced overseas," Miles said.
"It is a testament to our hard work and wonderful healthcare system that we can manufacture at-home COVID-19 tests right here in Queensland and export them overseas to countries who need it."
The company has plans to expand availability of its tests into Europe later this year, subject to securing the required approvals.
Updated at 3:46pm AEST on 20 January 2021.
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