Spartan Bioscience files for creditor protection after identifying 'issue' with COVID-19 test
Ottawa company laying off 60 workers, pauses shipments of its portable device
An Ottawa-based company that developed a rapid COVID-19 testing device says it has filed for creditor protection after finding an undisclosed problem with the technology.
Spartan Bioscience's interim CEO Jennifer Ross-Carriere said through a spokesperson Tuesday that the company has paused shipments of its COVID-19 testing cube while it works to resolve the "recently-identified issue."
"As a result of this pause in shipment, Spartan is seeking protection from creditors working to restructure the company and refine the performance of the COVID-19 test in the field," said the statement from Ross-Carriere.
Spartan says it's laying off 60 employees, or around 70 per cent of its workforce.
"We are incredibly committed to our technology, customers and partners, and will provide updates as soon as we can. Spartan remains committed to our vision of putting our world-leading mobile DNA-testing technology to work in the fight against COVID-19," said Ross-Carriere.
Spartan's device, which the company says is about the size of a coffee mug, has been described as a potential game-changer by health officials, with the company claiming it could deliver on-location results in less than an hour using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to get results.
The device was authorized for use by Health Canada on Jan. 22. Spartan said Health Canada's authorization remains in place while it works with the federal agency to resolve the issue.
With files from the Canadian Press and CBC's Stephen Hoff