Companies producing rapid Covid tests saw shares surge this afternoon after the Prime Minister said they would be the key to reopening the economy after months of lockdown.
The Department of Health and Social Care last week signed a contract with Omega Diagnostics, SureScreen and Avacta to produce up to 2m lateral flow tests per day, as the government draws up plans for easing restrictions.
Shares in Omega Diagnostics jumped 17.5 per cent to 94p this afternoon, while Avacta saw shares surge 13.9 per cent to 176p.
It comes after Boris Johnson said yesterday that rapid Covid tests on the doors of nightclubs, theatres and other hospitality venues will be crucial for kickstarting the economy.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Johnson said: “Doing things within the domestic UK economy… what we’re thinking of at the moment is a route that relies on mass vaccination.
“Plus, we’ll use lateral flow testing — or rapid testing — for those bits that have been the toughest nuts to crack, such as nightclubs, theatres, and those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open.”
He added: “Lots of businesses are already using the potential of rapid on-the-day testing — I think that, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward.”
Ministers are also understood to be considering plans for “test with a ticket”, where customers will be offered a quick turnaround test if attending a concert or performance.
The Prime Minister rubbished claims the government is mulling plans to introduce vaccine passports for entry to hospitality venues, though he said ministers were looking at an international vaccine certificate for foreign travel.
But Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s vaccines deployment minister, said it was up to individual businesses to decide whether to refuse entry to people who have not received the vaccine.
“It’s up to businesses what they do, but we don’t yet have the evidence of the effect of vaccines on transmission,” he told BBC Breakfast this morning.
British cinemas announced they have begun striking deals to create electronic certificates to screen customers.
David Chadwick of Verifiable Credentials, which has received government funding to develop vaccine certificates, said he had already signed one deal with one UK theatre and cinema complex to trial the technology.