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Vaccination by itself does not obviate the need for tests: Co-Diagnostics CEO

Dwight Egan, Co-Diagnostics CEO joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss their Q3 earnings and his company's COVID-19 rapid at-home test.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, we did see long lines stretched outside clinics across the country this weekend, as Americans rushed to get tested ahead of family gatherings, some traveling as well. More than 134,000 new cases of the coronavirus reported on Sunday alone, and that is a 9% jump from a week ago.

Let's bring in Dwight Egan. He is the CEO of Co-Diagnostics. And Dwight, we can speak more about your company's efforts on the testing front, but I just want to get your thoughts on what we saw play out over the last week or so. I mean, it's striking to me that eight months into the pandemic we are still seeing these very long lines outside clinics, those who are waiting for testing to be done. How much of this do you think is a supply issue, how much of this is just about staffing and the demand with the latest surge?

DWIGHT EGAN: I think, generally speaking, there's plenty of supply out there. I know we had a very robust November in terms of sales of our tests. So I think the testing capacity is, is very large, and I think it will continue to be large as we go through these next several months.

You know, we have a-- we're as excited as anybody is about efficacious and safe vaccines, but it's important to understand that vaccination by itself does not obviate the need for tests. We have a situation here where even if you're vaccinated, a certain number of people who are vaccinated are also going to get the disease.

And also, there's going to be a phenomenon where you have the cold and you have the flu. And you have a billion cases of the cold, and a whole bunch of flu, last year up to 56 million, notwithstanding the fact that we had very sophisticated flu vaccination going on in the United States. We vaccinated 45% of all the adults and 63% of all the kids last year, and we still had 56 million cases of the flu, according to the CDC-- up to that number.

So the fact that we have vaccinations coming online does not mean that we're going to have no cases of COVID, and that doesn't mean we're going to have no need for tests. The test requirements are going to be intense, notwithstanding we have a vaccine. Well, Kevin mentioned-- your last guest-- the issue with respect to vaccination reality, and we'll see how that all plays out. We hope it'll be safe and effective, but we do have a situation where, notwithstanding heavy vaccination, testing is going to be required in a very robust environment.

ZACK GUZMAN: Dwight, it's going to be chatting with you again here. I mean, we've been talking about how big of a boost this has been for your company, the stock up more than 1000% year to date. You just look at your guys' quarterly revenue, you reported that a couple weeks ago here-- $21.8 million for the quarter. You think about how big this pandemic has been in terms of, not just what Akiko's been talking about in terms of demand for testing, but for you guys as a company, $21.8 million in quarterly revenue, versus $1.5 when this was really just kind of getting started here. It's been a huge year for you guys.

But as you're kind of getting at there, obviously a bit of that demand is going to be petering out once we get past this vaccine rolling out. So where do you see, kind of, your guys' ability to maintain your name in testing beyond coronavirus and getting back to what you're raising there in terms of the need for influenza, for some of these other diseases as well?

DWIGHT EGAN: Yeah. Hi, Zack. It's good to see you again.

You know, our company has been very forward thinking with respect to the whole COVID phenomenon. During this year, we have engineered and received regulatory clearance at various levels for five different tests associated with COVID, including two with our India joint venture, CoSara. So we've been very adaptive, and we've been able to pivot and look at what is needed down the road. That's why we did our ABC test, which of course tests simultaneously for flu A, flu B, and COVID. That was something we put in motion many, many months ago, so that we began shipping it at the first part of October.

We have also looked forward to the next phase of this, which involves being able to take a test into a point of care environment. We have got a technology that we've been working on for many months, which is now getting ready to be validated, which has to do with our saliva direct technology. This enables us to actually test a per patient for COVID-19, and for flu, and for other pathogens down the road, such as sexually transmitted diseases, or strep, for example, and to do it without having to have an extraction step when we do the PCR. So we end up with a test that is fast, cheap, and it's accessible and it's accurate.

There is-- everybody wants three things from a COVID test, Zack and Akiko, they want something that's cheap, fast and accurate. There is no test right now on the market that does all of those three value propositions simultaneously. We're going to deliver all three of those propositions, as well as accessibility at home, at a business, at schools, and all of this, of course, is FDA willing.

But we have got a very cool technology that's coming out in a point of care platform that will enable us to play a critical role ongoing. You know, we don't really think of this as COVID-19 anymore. We think of it as COVID-20, COVID-21, and where we're taking it into the future.

And these new technologies that we've been able to work on because we've been adaptive and forward thinking, are going to give us, I think, a durable position, ongoing in the testing market worldwide. We've also been very responsive to what's going on around the world, not just the United States, as evidenced by our recent introduction of our multi-gene test that is preferred by certain foreign countries in terms of the targets that you test for for COVID-19.

AKIKO FUJITA: Dwight, when you talk about the CoPrimer technology, how do you think that changes the way we respond to COVID-19? I mean, to your point right now, we are still-- I think all of us have become accustomed to going through this uncomfortable swabs-- but it sounds like you're talking about something that is much quicker, also much more cost-effective.

How does that change the way we respond, this strategy itself? Schools, for example, will they be allowed to remain open as a result of it? Can you talk a bit about that, how that's likely to lead to an evolution of how we respond?

DWIGHT EGAN: Yeah, well, it's like Dr. Fauci said yesterday on one of the networks. He said that he'd like to see this type of testing available sooner rather than later, and he's talking about rapid, sensitive, specific home testing, for example, and one that you wouldn't even need a prescription for. Now, we've been in the Vanguard of testing, utilizing saliva, for example, with some of our customer partners such as a clinical reference lab out of Lenexa, Kansas. Tests are being done now with just a saliva sample, as opposed to a nasal faring gel, or even a nasal swab. Tests are being done in a environment that can be done at a home, where you don't have to have a prescription, where you simply go online and order a test.

But we're taking it even further than that with the new generation of products that we have in mind for the coming months-- as soon as we can get them on the market. And so it's going to be a situation where they're fast, they're inexpensive. Now, we have always been in the leadership area from an expensive standpoint. We've been the price leader on the low side, so we expect to continue that.

But we're also going to be able to make it accessible and put it into these other places. Every business ought to have a point of care device where they can test their employees. Every school ought to have them, and hopefully we can get it down to your bathroom counter.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, much more on that idea of not just a return to normal, but the new normal here as we move forward past the pandemic. Dwight Egan, the CEO of Co-Diagnostics, appreciate you taking the time to join us today.