Pfizer to acquire Australian app that claims to detect COVID-19 for $100 million

Pharmaceutical juggernaut Pfizer has made a $100 million bid to acquire a Brisbane-based app company that claims it can screen users for COVID-19 by coughing into a smartphone.

ASX-listed ResApp Health today informed the market it had entered into a binding scheme implementation deed for Pfizer Australia Holdings Pty Limited to acquire 100 per cent of its shares.

The proposed takeover values ​​ResApp at $0.115 per share – valuing the entire business at around $100 million.

ResApp’s website said it is developing the world’s first COVID-19 instant screening test that will use cough sounds to indicate the presence of a COVID-19 infection. (ResApphealth.com.au)

The app works by having users cough into the microphone of a smartphone, which then uses an algorithm that analyzes the sound of a patient’s cough for markers of the virus.

In a pilot clinical trial of 741 patients (446 of whom were COVID-19 positive), the app detected the virus in 92 per cent of people who had the virus.

The technology works by having a user cough into a smartphone. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

ResApp said the technology would be targeted for use as a COVID-19 “screening test”, where positive results would then lead to a patient conducting a rapid antigen or PCR test.

At the time, ResApp’s CEO and Managing Director, Tony Keating, said the technology could rapidly reduce the economic and environmental impact of using rapid antigen tests to screen otherwise healthy people.

“We are very excited about these preliminary results for detecting COVID-19 using cough audio recorded on a smartphone,” Mr Keating said.

“These algorithms offer a unique opportunity to provide a rule out screening test for COVID-19 at scale across the world, reducing the distribution challenge, the cost and the environmental impact of rapid antigen and PCR testing.

“The WHO have recently warned that the pandemic is not over, that health systems globally continue to strain under the current caseload and that we should be prepared for the potential of more dangerous variants to emerge.”

At the time of publishing, the technology had not been given approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) but talks are reportedly underway.

More than 50,000 positive rapid results were uploaded to the Service NSW app within hours of the changes coming online.
The technology, if approved, is said to be able to dramatically reduce the use of rapid tests for screening purposes. (AP)

Today, Mr Keating said the offer was a good outcome for shareholders.

“We are excited by the prospect of this acquisition by Pfizer, a leading biopharmaceutical company that shares our vision and belief that technology can help transform healthcare and improve patients’ lives,” Mr Keating said.

“The proposed acquisition recognizes the years of dedicated work by the ResApp team to build ResApp into a leader in audio-based analysis of respiratory health.

“We believe that the material premium and certainty of an all-cash consideration is an attractive outcome for our shareholders.”

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The acquisition is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals.

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