A SCOTS company has developed an affordable and accurate barcode-style test for Covid-19 that could offer a lifeline to businesses by reassuring employers and staff.

BioClavis was set up three years ago as a spin-out of BioSpyder Technologies – a California-based life science firm – and is based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow. Its BioClavis test, which was developed in collaboration with BioSpyder, detects coronavirus using an innovative biological barcoding technique called TempO-Span.

Joel McComb, CEO and founder of both companies, said the technology also works for other respiratory infections.

“With a minor modification to our core TempO-Seq technology, we’re able to incorporate biological barcodes to track individual patient samples and their results at scale for Covid-19 and other respiratory infections,” he said.

“This enables a high volume of patient results to be analysed by a highly accurate and low-cost automated process.”

BioClavis said using this method it will have the capabilities to process 100,000 samples a day by the end of January. It said that despite recent announcements about mass testing, limited national testing does not allow for the routine screening needed to enable workplaces to return to more normal ways of operating.

Through to March, it claims it will be in a position to scale from 100,000 tests per day to more than one million, which no other single clinical lab can offer. Tests will be available for as little as £30 per sample to companies and organisations who are prepared to subscribe to the routine service before the end of January. Excess capacity will be offered to the UK Government at further discounted prices.

Head of the Glasgow-based firm, Harper VanSteenhouse, said it would widen access to accurate and inexpensive screenings: “This will be particularly relevant in the new year, as people across the UK and Europe look forward to relaxation of restrictions on movement and working.

“Our service will be invaluable when it comes to lowering the risks to employees in business sectors such as construction, food, oil and gas and retail, where employees must be present to be effective, and broaden the safe return to work.”