Jerseyman Gary Hopkinson, a former Victoria College student, and his business partner, Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider, struck a deal to supply 50,000 Healgen antibody detection kits to the Island through a company they jointly own a couple of weeks ago.
The first batch of 10,000 kits arrived on Easter Monday. Testing is taking place, with a view to the government undertaking a mass screening programme.
Antibody tests are designed to detect whether a patient has had Covid-19 and therefore whether they have evidence of immunity to it.
Mr Hopkinson, who runs large-scale businesses in California, has been supplying kits to various countries and made the decision to help his home island after his sister explained that Jersey was short of testing equipment.
An outstanding order of 150,000 kits from another supplier is yet to arrive in Jersey.
‘With 50,000 kits and 100,000 population, Jersey will be the most tested nation on earth by a mile,’ said Mr Hopkinson.
‘And Jersey is actually the perfect place to do an immunology study. So, there is nowhere quite like Jersey that can do this and it can hopefully open up its economy again quickly, based on doing these tests.’
Mr Hopkinson said he would like to make as many as 250,0000 further test kits available for Jersey, with Islanders likely to require multiple tests in the coming months.
He said that the tests were from one of the best manufacturers, Chinese company Healgen, and ‘95% specific’ in terms of accuracy.
But he added that they needed to be administered with a correct testing strategy and said that he had offered to provide support to the Government of Jersey for this, in the shape of expert advice and cutting-edge software.
A statement released by Mr Hopkinson and Mr Shnaider says: ‘We are continuously happy to offer a helping hand to the Government of Jersey with our diagnostics experts, our test kits and our software solutions.
‘Jersey’s government has been a pleasure to work with. They act with speed and great scientific knowledge. From our first interaction to delivery, this only took less than two weeks. It required a lot of effort either side and we are glad it has worked out and hope to continue to help.
‘With the ongoing demand and lack of supply of the accurate antibody tests from reputable suppliers, the need for speed is great, due to orders being placed 6–12 months in advance now, so upon hearing of Jersey’s potential delay, we worked quickly with the local officials to get our test kits over to the Island as fast as possible’.
Mr Shnaider added: ‘When Gary told me his sister explained they could not get a rapid test done in Jersey yet, we thought we had a chance to extend a helping hand in an area where we have a lot of expertise and resources to the Government of Jersey and were pleasantly surprised with their speed and knowledge. We hope to continue to help during these testing times where global supply is tight.’
The Government of Jersey was put in contact with Mr Hopkinson and Mr Shnaider by Islanders Fraser McInnes and JEP journalist Ian Heath.