Roche launches '2.0' antigen tests for COVID's long road ahead

Roche has introduced what it describes as the next generation of its rapid antigen diagnostics for detecting the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, with three new configurations for testing at home and by healthcare providers.

In its announcement, the company said it has secured a CE Mark and plans to begin distributing the updated portfolio across Europe in the coming weeks—with all “2.0” tests connecting to Roche’s digital Navify Pass, which can store and display test results as well as a person’s vaccination status.

“The continued evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 pandemic reinforce the need for individuals and healthcare systems to have access to the most reliable rapid testing solutions possible,” said Roche Diagnostics CEO Thomas Schinecker, who is in line to take over Roche as a whole next year. “These tests are ready to support global society as we navigate this next phase of the pandemic.”

Going forward, Roche said it would maintain the capacity to produce tens of millions of tests per month worldwide. The three new tests include two for professional use, relying on nasal or deeper nasopharyngeal swabs, as well as a nasal test that can be self-performed and offer results within 15 minutes.

The tests will be launched in partnership with the South Korea-based SD Biosensor, which Roche has worked with in the past to internationally distribute rapid antigen and antibody tests for COVID-19. The latest versions also include an improved antibody to better match today’s coronavirus variants, including omicron.

While Schinecker prepares to move up to the top spot at Roche, the role of diagnostics CEO will be taken by Matt Sause, the current head of Roche Diagnostics’ North America region, starting January 1, 2023.

Schinecker will take over for current chief Severin Schwan—who himself served as diagnostics CEO from 2006 to 2008 before helming the company overall—after Schwan becomes chairman of Roche during the company’s upcoming annual general meeting next March.