BioIQ, an Atlanta-based biotech company, works with employers, government agencies and health providers to supply them with testing for diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, along with immunization programs patients can take at home or in the doctor’s office.
But when coronavirus, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, hit the world, the company quickly moved to expand its efforts into test kits for COVID-19.
Through their network of labs and clients, BioIQ will be able to distribute the testing to health providers, employers and across the nation, CEO Justin Bellante told Atlanta Inno.
“We’re really taking a public health focus to how these tests are applied and prioritized,” he said.
Bellante said the company has had to double down on current client needs while also expanding on COVID-19 testing. BioIQ’s saliva test for COVID-19 launches on the market this week and will be available for use with clinician oversight in a clinical setting — meaning these tests cannot be taken at-home at this time.
“We’re working double time these days not only to do more for our existing clients…and also to be part of the COVID-19 solution,” Bellante said.
Though the company joins the fight to make more COVID-19 testing available across the country, priority will be placed on health care workers, critical infrastructure and vulnerable populations, Bellante said.
Bellante said there were critical mistakes made when COVID-19 first landed in the U.S. and testing should have begun earlier, like in South Korea.
“Now we have to react and look forward, after these mistakes have been made,” he said. “Both the national lab as well as the FDA have really been working hard and have done a really good job of being responsive and adapting to new technologies.”
While BioIQ is one of many startups and companies across the world working on testing for COVID-19, it’s not about competition, Bellante said.
“I think in a national crisis and a pandemic, we don’t have any competitors,” he said. “We all have to work together and we all have to be thoughtful and think of our strengths as we do that… We look at this less so of an opportunity and more so as an obligation.”
Government health officials are currently focused on containment, limiting exposure and preventing spikes of the disease that would incur floods to hospitals across the country. Bellante said those challenges will evolve over the next 12 to 24 months. For example, what happens when we enter another flu season? Will COVID-19 become a seasonal illness like the flu? Bellante said once the scale of disease in the U.S. is down, testing will most likely focus on who has had COVID-19 and what their immune response is to the disease.
“We all have to get better,” he said. “We all have to learn. That’s the only way to get ahead of this virus.”
BioIQ moved its headquarters from California to Cobb County a year ago and recently raised$14 million in a funding round in December.
The company utilizes data analytics to simplify health testing and immunization programs for health plans, employers and government agencies. Notable customers include Walmart and Sam’s Club. The company’s platform configures and connects partner solutions, including national laboratories, diagnostics companies, digital health solution and more.