NEW YORK – Genetic testing company Prenetics and several collaborators from various industries have launched Project Screen, a non-profit initiative designed to greatly increase accessibility to COVID-19 molecular testing in Hong Kong.
The initiative aims to specifically provide the Hong Kong community with home access to the World Health Organization-approved RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at zero profit to its organizers.
Prenetics, Prudential Hong Kong, and Chinese University Hong Kong (CUHK) are organizing and providing support for the effort, which will have additional philanthropic and operational support from Xcelom, Supreme Mason Healthcare, hpa SOCIAL, Beyond Ventures, and Pickupp.
Using Prenetics' existing ISO-15189:2012-accredited laboratory, Project Screen can currently process up to 1,000 tests daily with plans to expand to as many as 3,000 samples daily if necessary. To take a test, individuals complete a short questionnaire on the Project Screen website. The test will be available for HKD $985 (US $127) to all individuals, and for HKD $685 to healthcare workers and their families due to a HKD $300 subsidy from Prudential for up to 30,000 workers.
Testing will include overnight sample delivery, a collection device for sampling saliva from the throat, shipping materials, same-day sample collection pickup, and private, secure results within 24 hours of receipt in the laboratory.
The costs of the HKD $985 testing kit comprise sample collection (HKD $53), delivery fee (HKD $30), sample pick-up fee (HKD $130), operational costs (HKD $257), health professional oversight (HKD $50) and credit card transaction fees (HKD $36).
As part of the effort, Prenetics will also collaborate with CUHK, led by professor Stephen Tsui, to develop a new protocol for rapid and accurate whole-genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to provide additional insights to combat its spread.
Prenetics, based in Hong Kong, operates its direct-to-consumer genomics business via two brands: CircleDNA in Asia and DNAFit in Europe.