By Riley Kaminer
How would the 2019 version of yourself respond to 2022 you explaining that it would be considered normal to stick a swab up your nose before traveling or going to a big event?
2019 you would likely be surprised. But self-testing plays a critical role in our new normal, enabling us to prevent spikes in cases.
Miami is now the hub for one of the most prominent players in the Covid-testing game: Intrivo. The company’s main product is its On/Go tests, which come packaged in an unmistakable sunshine yellow box.
Co-CEO Ron Gutman’s smile shines almost as brightly as an On/Go box. In 2011, the Stanford professor gained notoriety for his TED talk on the hidden benefits of smiling. Now Miami-based Gutman is underscoring the importance of continued testing to stop Covid in its tracks.
“In the beginning of 2021, the first vaccines became available at scale and people began to think that the pandemic was over,” Gutman told Refresh Miami. “At the same time, major test manufacturers closed their facilities, let go of thousands of employees, and destroyed billions of dollars of tests.”
Then came the Delta variant. In talking with his scientific colleagues at Stanford, one thing was certain to Gutman at that time: “[Covid] is not going anywhere. This will be with us forever.”
At that point Intrivo doubled down on their testing, even creating a temporary manufacturing facility right here in Miami to keep up with the surge in demand. This enabled the company to serve customers quickly (furnishing them with tests as quickly as 15 minutes after placing an online order) and at scale (selling anywhere from a single test to tens of millions of tests per order).
When Intrivo opened its doors in February 2020, it was originally based in Los Angeles. But as time went on, Miami eventually became the company’s center of gravity.
Intrivo’s offering has both a hardware and a software component. On the hardware side, they’ve developed a Covid test that Gutman called “the most accurate test in the market,” sitting at 98.2% accuracy.
The central component of Intrivo’s software is the app that users download when they are taking their rapid test. Gutman, who has a background in artificial intelligence, created machine learning-powered tools that improve the accuracy of testing while also providing an aggregate picture of caseloads.
“This software enables you to predict the trajectory of COVID,” explained Gutman. “You can identify outbreaks as they occur, see where and how they’re moving, and predict their movement.” He noted that this brings much-needed clarity to hospital systems, employers, and governments who need to track the evolution of Covid caseloads.
One area where these tools and insights are desperately needed is Ukraine. Seeing the need and wanting to make a positive difference, Intrivo donated $1 million in tests, computers, and software to public health systems and hospitals in the war-torn region.
In May, Gutman traveled to Ukraine to ensure the safe delivery of the materials and talk to people on the ground. “It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time,” he said of the trip.
The intensity of this experience has inspired Gutman to push forward on Intrivo’s mission of bringing safe testing to consumers’ homes. “Covid was for us what books were for Amazon: a really good way for us to cut our teeth,” he said.
Intrivo plans to continue expanding their services. This includes becoming the one-stop-shop for consumers’ complete health needs, including doctor consultations and pharmaceutical purchasing.
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- GenoSUR and GenoBank develop tamper-proof, blockchain-powered Covid-19 test results
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