Avicena FIFO COVID-19 screening system approved

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The Avicena team. From left to right; Mark Sheridan, Paul Watt, Tony Fitzgerald and Andrew Kempson. Source: Business News.

WA-based medical technology company Avicena has been granted approval by the WA Government to undertake a large scale trial to help detect COVID-19 in the State’s fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workforce. 

Under the Sentinel Surveillance DETECT study, the three-time INCITE award winning startup – in collaboration with Curtin University – will be regularly screening workers and contractors in the resources industry using their award-winning Sentinel System. 

In 2020, Sentinel was a recipient of a $500,000 grant from the McGowan Government to assist in the development of the prototype. A year later, Avicena was awarded a $150,000 grant through the McGowan Government’s New Industries Fund to help establish a facility for the initial production and development of Sentinel. 

Minister for Medical Research and Innovation and ICT, Stephen Dawson, praised the WA-developed innovation that will play a crucial role in protecting the health and safety of the FIFO workforce. 

“The speed of the system lends itself to large-scale screening, including workers arriving on a mine site, and will provide for more rapid isolation responses from infected individuals. The approval of the use of this study provides another asset in combatting the threat of COVID-19 in the WA community.”

The results of this study will help us determine how we can continue to strengthen our management of the COVID-19 pandemic and keep Western Australians safe.

Innovation Minister Stephen Dawson. Image – Government of WA.

The system is designed to rapidly screen up to 4,000 saliva samples an hour or more than 95,000 samples a day. It uses state-of-the-art RT-LAMP chemistry and robotics with accuracy comparable to PCR tests, providing results significantly faster and at a substantially lower cost. 

It is also more accurate than Rapid Antigen Tests in detecting infectious individuals with lower viral loads within the first days of infection and in asymptomatic patients. 

“We are delighted to be able to contribute to safeguarding the health and security of Western Australians with our innovative Sentinel technology that has been developed entirely in our own State,” said Avicena Executive Chair and Co-founder, Dr Paul Watt

In addition to this trial, the Telethon Kids Institute and Curtin University will be using the Sentinel System to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 in a study for the Perth metropolitan region.