Bill Gates and George Soros join buyout of UK Covid testing company

·2-min read
Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Billionaire philanthropists George Soros and Bill Gates are part of a buyout of Bedford based developer of lateral flow tests.

The founder of Microsoft founder joined the Soros Economic Development Fund in a deal to buy Mologic, which has developed 10-minute Covid tests that it aims to make for as little as $1.

The consortium will pump £30m into Mologic to focus on the low-cost development of tropical diseases such as dengue fever and river blindness, taking it on from current owners Foresight Group LLP and Calculus Capital.

Mologic was founded in 2003 by professor Paul Davis, who was one of the original developers of widely-used ClearBlue pregnancy tests, and his son Mark. The company will be renamed Global Access Health after the deal.

The coronavirus crisis has shown how simple lateral flow tests, once best known for pregnancy tests, can be used for mass testing for a host of other diseases.

Watch: How Bill Gates makes and spends his billions

The hope is to use Mologic's tools to develop low-cost tests for tropical illnesses, allowing them to be diagnosed more quickly and for less.

Mark Davis, Mologi'c's chief executive told the Financial Times they wanted to put Africa first with their tests and not leave only "breadcrumbs".

“The only way to do more was to delink ourselves from unbridled profiteering,” he said.

While Mologic has received a CE mark for its tests, they have yet to be approved for use in the UK or the US.

Mologic was given £1m by the UK to develop its tests, but has accused the government of "stonewalling" its efforts to get the test used en mass in Britain.

The UK has spent billions of pounds to buy hundreds of millions of rapid tests for use at home and by health services.

The $50bn (£36.3bn) Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will join the investment in Mologic, which comes amid a shake-up at the giant charitable fund after Mr and Mrs Gates announced their divorce.