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The company tests surfaces and air to detect COVID nearly a week before symptoms start
We're well into the coronavirus pandemic now, in the second or perhaps even third wave (depending on who you ask), yet cases and deaths are still surging in different parts of the country. What we really need is a better way to test for the virus, to find out where it is and head it off before it can infect people.
That's exactly what Enviral Tech is doing. The biotechnology company, which was founded in March of this year, is able to test both surfaces and air in order to detect viral pathogens, including COVID, nearly a week before symptoms start, thus potentially saving countless other people from also catching it.
"We recognized early that COVID-19 was going to evolve into a global pandemic and knew that testing was the key to slowing down and preventing deaths. Enviral Tech was founded because we believe that environmental testing provides a unique view into where and when viruses spread and we wanted to make this type of testing available to a broad audience," Dr. Shula Jaron, CEO and co-founder of Enviral Tech, told me.
"By leveraging surface and air testing, communities are able to identify when and where the virus has been shed, conduct contact tracing and targeted diagnostic testing, sanitize their environments, and overall help prevent widespread infection."
On Wednesday, the company announced that it raised $1.5 million in seed funding in a round led by Rogue Venture Partners, with additional investments from Cascade Seed Fund and private investors.
Enviral Tech’s Surface Check testing kit is available for purchase as both a one-off and on a subscription basis. Customers receive their testing kit within three business days, which will contain all materials needed to collect samples from what Jaron refers to as "high-touch, high-traffic areas," which includes door knobs and countertops.
Once the samples are collected, the customer returns the kits using an included FedEx overnight return shipper to Enviral Tech’s lab, which is located in Eugene, Oregon. Testing results are returned within 24 hours via email, though the company says it is also working on a web portal where customers can view their results.
Currently, Enviral has partnerships with more than 150 facilities across America and is seeing its customer base grow, on average, by 10 percent week over week. So far, it's subscription-based service has processed more than 20,000 coronavirus surface tests in more than 100 facilities nationwide, and it has managed to intervened in over 100 potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
As for the accuracy of its test, it has seen false-positive in less than 5 out of 1,000 tests, and a false-negative rate of less than 15 percent. That, Jaron explained, "compares favorably with the human testing statistics, in which 20 to 30 percent of infected people receive a negative test result."
The company plans to use the new capital it has raised, in part, for further research and development, as well as new technologies for air testing systems, as well as environmental testing for influenza.
"On average, the flu kills between 35,000 and 65,000 people a year, and when coupled with the highly contagious and robust coronavirus, communities are looking at an increased threat this winter season. Enviral Tech is committed to evolving with market demands, so we are constantly looking for both new viruses and mutations of viruses that we already surveil," said Jaron.
The company has also been expanding its team, hiring Micah Kimbro, previously worked a Senior Account Manager at Urgo Medical North America, as Director of Sales, as well as David Fong, former Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Aviacode, as Vice President of Marketing.
"David and Micah bring a great deal of experience to company and we have already seen their impact in a short amount of time. We are very excited to have their added expertise, and look forward to growing our team with other diverse, knowledgeable professionals from across the industry," said Jaron.
Enviral Tech's goal is to improve testing so that it can stop the spread of diseases like COVID. The company will be successful, she said, "the day when environmental testing is not only accepted, but expected in every infection control plan."
(Image source: enviraltech.com)
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