BD to develop smartphone-powered home COVID-19 test with Scanwell Health

BD has begun working with the digital home testing company Scanwell Health, to pair up the former’s rapid antigen diagnostic for COVID-19 with the latter’s smartphone platform.

The app will provide instructions for self-collecting a nasal swab sample and running the lateral flow test, while the smartphone’s camera will help analyze and determine the result. The two companies plan to have the system automatically report findings to public health agencies.

"Testing at home before going out into the public is a critical safeguard to help stop the spread of COVID-19," said Dave Hickey, BD’s president of life sciences. "BD and Scanwell Health are bringing the best of our innovations together to develop a reliable test with a convenient and simple user experience." 

Hickey describes the planned at-home antigen test as a complement to its current handheld, point-of-care test, the Veritor system, which was authorized by the FDA last summer. That antigen-based device operates similarly to a rapid flu test and aims to provide a COVID-19 result within 15 minutes.

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“Scanwell's innovative computer vision technology closely mirrors that of point-of-care and laboratory diagnostic systems,” said Scanwell founder and CEO Stephen Chen. “We're excited to leverage our experience in building FDA-cleared apps to bring this solution to market."

Before the pandemic, Scanwell provided smartphone-powered tests for urinary tract infections, with an app that could put users in touch with a physician if they needed a prescription for antibiotics.

The company has also been developing a fingerprick COVID-19 antibody blood test for its system, in collaboration with the telehealth provider Lemonaid Health and the diagnostic developer Innovita. It’s currently only available for research use.