A Kerry couple working in partnership with a UK-based investment firm supplying countries with PPE and Covid test kits is urging the Irish State to procure an unlimited supply of rapid Covid-19 antigen test kits they are offering at what is believed to be the cheapest rate on the international market.
ralee native Ann Crosby and husband Daniel say the offer would prove a ‘gamechanger’ allowing the country secure the test kits in the massive quantities required to get populations mobile and working again.
The widescale deployment of rapid antigen tests is increasingly seen as representing one of the main hopes countries have of getting out of lockdown – particularly in light of the growing questions surrounding the full efficacy of the current wave of vaccines on some of the latest strains of Covid-19 to have emerged.
Typically, countries are paying up to €10) per unit; but Mr and Mrs Crosby and the company they are now working with, Blackbuck Capital, say they can offer the kits at just $3.50 (US dollars) per unit.
Blackbuck Capital has sourced the Antigen Rapid Qualitative Tests (RQTs) from medical manufacturing giant Realy Tech in China, in a CE certified product line that is up to 95 per cent accurate.
The low cost means the State could ultimately deploy them beyond hospitals to schools, airports and factories and even homes. Their significance from the point of view of reopening economies lies in the fact they give readings within a matter of minutes – allowing people to take immediate steps to seek PCR testing while self-isolating if positive, or continuing as normal, if negative.
“It would be a game-changer,” Ann Crosby told The Kerryman this week.
“This is what you need to get places with numerous employees or students going again safely. They could be deployed in meat plants, factories, schools and so on but there needs to be transparency from governments at present as to how much they are buying these things at present. They need to be open with taxpayers’ money,” Daniel said.
“Somebody is making a profit somewhere to the detriment of the Irish taxpayer at present, we believe the State is paying up to €9 per unit in some cases for rapid antigen tests,” Ann said.
“They will help to open up the borders and get entire economies going again. Unfortunately it seems to me to becoming clear that the vaccines won’t be the panacea we thought they would be just a few months ago,” she added.
Director of Blackbuck Capital Harry Harvey has already laid it all out for the government in a letter he was directed to send to the head of procurement in Ireland, but has yet to receive a reply. It is believed the State, while receiving its first allocation of test kits from the European Commission this quarter, is looking to source further large-scale supply.
Mr Harvey, who supplies the kits globally as well as cutting-edge PPE products, told The Kerryman that some of the bills governments are now facing for test kits around the world are ‘extortionate’.
“The world has changed and will never go back to the way it was. We will unfortunately have to learn to live with Covid,” Mr Harvey told The Kerryman.
“For that reason rapid antigen test kits are vital, but the price I’m prepared to provide them to the Irish government would be a gamechanger for the pandemic in Ireland.
“I heard of one company saying they thought they could get as much as €12 per unit from Ireland. That’s obscene. They could make €100 million out of Ireland when the State could be paying just €10 million for the same supply with us.
“I am a business man and I would still make a profit at €3.50.
“But we are in the middle of a dangerous pandemic. I have even volunteered to donate kits free to my grandchildren’s school in the UK.”