Vessel Health, a wellness startup, has developed an app and serology test that enables accurate, at-home detection of COVID-19 antibodies, in just 15 minutes. Now, its tests cards are waiting to receive FDA approval, with the ability to produce over a million tests a week.
The test measures across more than a dozen metrics from nutrition, hydration and toxins to vitamin deficiencies. The app was initially created to help individuals discover and track what your body needs to feel, perform, and live better.
“In the fight against COVID-19, Vessel’s approach to at-home antibody testing is a promising new tool to help us understand who is likely immune and can return back to work.” Dr. John Brownstein, epidemiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Founded in 2017, by local serial entrepreneur Jon Carder, who previous built and sold three multi-million dollar Internet businesses before the age 27, he retired in his 20s but it was short-lived. He later co-founded Empyr and Mogl, which combined raised $65 million in startup capital.
Before Vessel Health, the company was initially called Bloom. Its first product was a consumer-facing, in-home targeted at people who want to improve their wellbeing and live longer.
Anticipating its official launch in May, the company was disrupted by the coronavirus after its manufacturing plant significantly reduced its staff and eventually closed down entirely.
Quickly pivoting, Carder said, the antibody test for COVID-19 was exactly what was being used on its own wellness test card. As a result, its team of experts rapidly rebranded and resigned its product to solve a more important problem.
“The test card we’ve been working on for years uses the same Lateral Flow technology as the serology tests that can detect COVID-19 antibodies,” said Carder co-founder and CEO of Vessel Health. “Within a few tweaks to our app, we can enable accurate at home antibody testing. If all goes well, millions of people can test themselves safely from home, while knowing who is likely immune and we can start getting back to normal.”
Needing FDA Approval
Working with the University of California San Francisco to validate the accuracy of its tests, the company has now started clinical trials in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Doc.ai, a Palo Alto-based artificial intelligence company, and Anthem health insurance. It hopes to receive authorization sometime this month.
“It kind of worked out really nice actually for us,” said Carder. “It took us about two months to get the COVID-19 antibody test app fully functioning, find suppliers, and get all of that ready for clinical trials with the FDA.”
Vessel Health’s competitive advantage is that their test strips can be analyzed within minutes, instead of days and is working with four different FDA approved manufacturers to help bring its solution to market.
Accepting Bulk Orders
Vessel Health is currently accepting bulk orders for its COVID-19 antibody test cards from cities, states and companies with 200 to 300 employees. So far, the company has sold 100,000 tests to Colorado and has delivered an order to Texas. Annual revenue was not disclosed.
“We’d really love to help San Diego businesses,” said Carder. “A company usually starts with a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. It’s about $20 a test for antibody testing versus $100 to $150 for the PCR nasal swab test. It’s much more cost effective and every week you can maintain a good understanding of who has it and who doesn’t.”
Over 5,000 on Waitlist
Still on track, the company has conducted live usability studies for its at-home testing, conducting more than 100 tests a week. With more 5,000 people on its waitlist, they plan to sell its wellness product to consumer in July.
At-home test strips are not novel, with over 200 competitor nutrition tests consumers can buy directly from Amazon. Buyers simply take the test at home, ship it back to the company, and get results in about 10 days.
Vessel Health is unique as it offers a companion mobile app that reads the test strips and gives users the results in 15 minutes. The app also gives recommendations on what to eat or which supplements to take based on your results.
Interested users are encouraged to sign up on its waitlist. One test strip will cost about $20.
To date, Vessel Health has raised $4.5 million in seed money from investors and is participating in the La Jolla-based Nex Cubed’s digital health accelerator program.