Novacyt shares fall on French refusal to refund virus test

PARIS (Reuters) – Shares in healthcare and clinical diagnostics company Novacyt (ALNOV.PA) (NCYT.L) fell on Tuesday after a French regulator decided not to approve its novel coronavirus test for reimbursement, dampening Novacyt’s stellar stock market rally.

France, in common with other European countries, is betting on mass testing for the covonavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, as part of its strategy to emerge safely from the epidemic.

City laboratories in France that carry out testing almost exclusively use tests the country’s social security system reimburses.

Shares in Novacyt were down 9% at 3.54 euros by 0915 GMT, although the stock remains up by more than 2,000% since the start of this year, spurred by a wave of contract orders for its testing product.

The company has singled itself out with a test able to detect the coronavirus in less than two hours. Current testing, which can also identify other strains, takes up to a day.

Novacyt said on Tuesday it had total sales and confirmed orders worth 135 million euros ($150.3 million) for the product, with new deals in Zimbabwe and across Latin America.

Novacyt said although France’s Haute Autorite de Sante regulatory body had not approved its test for reimbursement in France, it could still sell the product there for private patient testing.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Matthias Blamont; editing by Louise Heavens and Barbara Lewis

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