Life sciences firm Omega Diagnostics widens losses but hopeful over demand for Covid tests

Medical testing specialist Omega Diagnostics has widened its losses in its latest financial year, but said it sees Covid-19 antigen testing remaining a “significant” opportunity for the business.

The Alva-based life sciences firm is behind a range of diagnostic kits for use in hospitals, clinics, laboratories and healthcare practitioners in more than 75 countries, with its remit also including food intolerance and testing the immune systems of people with HIV.

In the year to March 31, its core loss came in at £2.2 million, swinging from a £890,000 profit, while its adjusted pre-tax loss amounted to £3.15m, up from a £400,000 loss in the prior period.

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Revenue fell by 11 per cent from the previous 12 months to £8.73m. It had in the first half fallen by 29 per cent to £3.16m, “mainly due to the effects of Covid-19 on the health and nutrition business”, but the rest of the year saw good recovery.

The Clackmannanshire-based firm is involved in Covid-19 antibody and antigen testing. Picture: contributed.
The Clackmannanshire-based firm is involved in Covid-19 antibody and antigen testing. Picture: contributed.

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Revenue for the global health division increased by nearly 300 per cent at £1.9m, £900,000 of which was for the firm’s AbC-19TM Covid-19 lateral flow antibody test. “However, although making a significant contribution, this level of AbC-19TM sales was below original expectations, mainly due to focus changing towards antigen testing in the UK where routine antibody testing was not recommended as previously anticipated.”

The Aim-quoted firm has also announced that group finance director Kieron Harbinson is stepping down after 19 years with the company, and is being succeeded by Chris Lea effective August 30.

The firm also noted that its Visitect CD4 Advanced Disease test for HIV patients has received “the most stringent regulatory requirement” of World Health Organisation prequalification, and it has invested more than £2m in facility refurbishment and new equipment to accommodate increased capacity expected from both Covid-19 and CD4 manufacturing throughput.

Chairman Simon Douglas, whose appointment was revealed in February, said: "While conditions in the UK and in many parts of the world have improved significantly over the past few months, there remains considerable uncertainty around the world as countries ease or increase restrictions to manage the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Expertise

“Challenges remain for much of our international customer base, but the board believes the company has the expertise to meet these... and capitalise on opportunities as we have done over the past year.

“CD4 is a unique product and gaining traction in countries where HIV remains a serious challenge. We intend to build on this in the short term through further country registrations and international distribution.

"In addition, our strategy and focus to deliver high-value, instrument-free diagnostic products will be enhanced over the next 36 months through the introduction of a further range of lateral flow tests for diseases often associated with advanced HIV and a damaged immune system.

"The recovery of the health and nutrition business should continue with growth in China and the USA anticipated over the next two years as their economies open up. Covid-19 antigen testing still remains a significant opportunity for us, although very much dependent on the UK government's decisions as to test selection and timing."

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