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Monday 18 May 2020

Babylon: Strong Q1 and launch of Covid-19 antibody test

Babylon logoControversial healthtech start-up Babylon has had a busy first quarter, responding to and benefiting from increasing demand for its services on the back of Covid-19. During Q1 2020, it delivered 11.7k daily consultations, a 70% year on year increase; launched a Covid-19 Care Assistant product for users in the UK; and continued to expand its services in the US. 

The fast pace has continued into Q2. Last week, Babylon launched a lab-based antibody test service that is open to anyone in the UK and announced that Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is using its Ask A&E symptom checker, meaning 8% of the country is now covered by its digital A&E services.

Insight into Babylon’s recent performance can be gleaned from the Q1 accounts of Vostok New Ventures, which owns 10.8% of Babylon. VNV reports that Babylon has seen higher demand for its services on the back of Covid-19, signed a number of new deals and expanded its existing contracts. As a result, the Bermuda-headquartered venture firm now values its 10.8% stake – for which it paid US$92.6m - at US$262.5m using a forward looking EV/revenue model. An impressive valuation.

Many in the UK, however, will be particularly interested in Friday’s news that Babylon is offering Covid-19 antibody tests at cost price to anyone in the UK. Priced at £69, the tests are apparently produced by ‘a leading diagnostics company’ and lab-analysed in the UK. Babylon claims the tests are more reliable than the at-home rapid tests with 98.5% sensitivity and 99.5% specificity. When ordering these tests, patients - who will need to register for a free account with Babylon - can choose to share information about their symptoms, demographics, and testing history with researchers to provide them with invaluable information about the disease. 

This is an interesting, opportunistic move from an agile scale-up, which clearly has an eye on the data as well as the service itself. Babylon claims that ‘with explicit consent from testers’ it is committed to analysing the information to contribute to the world’s understanding of the disease and is offering to share important anonymised data with the research community and Public Health England. 

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: scaleup   healthcare   covid-19  

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