Lucira CEO Erik Engelson joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss company earnings and the future of at-home COVID-19 and flu testing.
- Welcome back. As COVID-19 moves to the endemic stage, our next guest believes people will be unable to definitively determine based on symptoms alone whether a person has COVID-19 or influenza. Lucira is the first and only FDA-authorized single-use rapid at-home test available over the counter. And for more on this, we welcome in Erik Engelson, Lucira CEO and president. Erik, good to see you here this morning. So what makes your test special?
ERIK ENGELSON: Good morning. Great to be here with you this morning. So classically testing could be performed in hospital labs or physician offices on what's often referred to as PCR tests. Alternatively, antigen tests, which have been largely funded by a government subsidy to subsidize the public's purchasing of tests, have spread across the market for home testing. And they offer convenience and have had a positive impact.
But what if those two tests could be combined, the convenience of antigen tests with the accuracy of PCR tests? That's what Lucira has brought to market well into the pandemic and has made a difference by offering very accurate and easy to use home testing. What does that mean? That means that early in an infection-- and remember the insidious nature of COVID. When COVID first hit it, could incubate for up to 14 days in somebody, yet they would be infectious without knowing it before symptoms appeared.
The only way to detect that is with a highly accurate, what's known as a molecular test. That's what Lucira offers. That incubation period has shortened as the pandemic has moved on and spread. But still, there's an incubation period in which if we're infected, we will be infectious.
And it's important to know that for both early treatment. The earlier you know, the earlier you treat with antivirals, the more effective the treatment, as well as to quarantine when appropriate. So we're very proud of what Lucira has brought to market. And this is just the first of many different tests that Lucira will offer for home use.
- So what is the future of home use testing? Because, quite frankly, people just get exhausted after a while. They want to know. They want to make sure that anybody who comes into their orbit or their surroundings, that everybody who is feeling sick is able to clear themselves of that and able to know in one regard or another.
But then on the other side, there are a lot of households, there are a lot of people that say, you know what? Either I'm just not going to take a test. If I feel sick, I'm just going to stay home. Or I'm just going to I'm just going to not know what I have and not test for it.
ERIK ENGELSON: So Lucira was founded about 10 years ago with the whole idea of taking central lab, hospital lab testing on big machines and putting it into a form factor that could fit in the palm of your hand for testing any time, anywhere. And, in fact, the founders went the extra mile to develop a test that was instrument free. So, for example, here's the box for our new upcoming not yet FDA approved, but approved in Canada combined flu and COVID test. And what I want to do is direct the conversation away from COVID alone, because there are many other infectious diseases to test for that would be convenient to test at home and, in fact, much safer for health care workers and better for patients to be able to early diagnose.
So COVID was an opportunity that Lucira launched its first product into. And it catalyzed the growth of the company. And we offer a very accurate test for those who want to use it and are feeling that they may be infected. But there are many other products on the horizon.
The issue with flu and COVID is that the symptoms, the presenting symptoms are identical. So how do you know what you have and how to treat? That's what this next test will offer
- Erik, before we let you go, I'm on your ticker page on Yahoo Finance. The stock's at about $1.72 a share, $69 million market cap. And it doesn't appear like you are earning profits. What is it like running a smaller cap company in this volatile backdrop?
ERIK ENGELSON: So we actually had net, we're net income positive in Q1 on revenues of about $90 million, up from $60 million Q4. So I think the punch line here is that it takes very little volume for-- modest volume, let's say, for Lucira to be profitable and to scale. So we're actually very excited about our future, about our ability to become profitable on a continuous basis, as well as to bring additional products to market that will have a big impact and will play a key role in this paradigm shift to home testing tied to home treatment. And so we're looking forward to playing a role in that whole ecosystem.
- Erik Engelson, Lucira president and CEO, we appreciate you taking the time here with us this morning.
ERIK ENGELSON: Thanks for having me.