Prenetics launches global testing partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airlines, and investment in new UK laboratory capacity; HALF A MILLION ADDITIONAL TESTS PER MONTH.

We are delighted to be announcing today a global partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airlines (‘Virgin’) to offer competitively priced testing packages to its passengers.

Initially, these testing ‘bundles’ will be relevant to their already open routes to Nigeria, Israel and Granada, and will be rolled out to new destinations as these open up, notably to the US which is a key pillar of the Virgin business. There is a lot of detail in the media release link here:

We are pleased to have been able between us to price these customer testing packages [overall in the lowest quartile in terms of price relative to competitors], depending on the destination.

Some commentators are perhaps wondering whether there is now a price war in the sector, with participants seeking to ‘buy’ market share. That is not our approach, nor of any of the organisations we are working with such as Heathrow, the Premier League, and IWG PLC, the national serviced offices business. For all our clients, quality is the watchword always. When our business launched in the UK more or less a year ago, with under a dozen staff, to address the global health crisis, we aimed from Day One to set the ‘gold’ standard in testing and reliability. We have done a lot right, always re-investing, and now employ just under 400 staff in our laboratories and delivery platforms, as well as many more through sub-contractors and service partners.

In terms of travel and tourism, the real challenge for the UK this summer is testing capacity. If — as expected — international travel reaches even 25% of pre-Covid summer levels (e.g. of 2019), current testing capacity may simply run out. NHS resources are rightly being kept in reserve, against future waves, and the private sector, including Prenetics, is therefore at the fore.

Some of the ‘deep discount’ pricing of holiday testing bundles we are seeing is pretty theoretical in my view. The number of green destinations announced on Monday this week was small, reflecting understandable caution perhaps in some areas.

Our view is we need to ensure that we have a sustainable and blue-chip testing platform which is well-invested and long-term. Peak travel loads will not be now, but in July and August, and we at Prenetics aim to be there in full operation.

With that in mind we are opening new capacity at Greenwich Peninsula and in Kent in the next weeks, with a formal opening on June 15, which we expect to be delivering additional testing capacity of 15,000 PCR tests per day, or nearly half a million (450,000) per month.

The fight against Covid is about the long term, and that is the measure of this company’s strategy. Nothing less will do.