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MARKET REPORT: MyHealthChecked soars after Covid stamp of approval 

As Britons wait for the Covid vaccine rollout and more regions face being plunged into Tier 4, testing has become more important than ever.

Which is why MyHealthChecked, formerly known as Concepta, was a big hit with investors after it was added to the Government’s approved list for private testing providers.

The AIM-listed firm will also be included on the test-to-release scheme for international travel, which can reduce the ten-day quarantine period for people who have come to the UK from a country not included in the ‘travel corridor’ arrangements.

Share rise: MyHealthChecked, formerly known as Concepta, was a big hit with investors after it was added to the Government’s approved list for private testing providers

It runs several clinics but has been offering an online postal service during the pandemic, using a nose swab test developed by a fellow AIM-quoted group, Yourgene Health (flat at 15.5p), which was given Government approval for test-and-release on Christmas Eve, and a collection device supplied by EKF Diagnostic Holdings (up 4.7 per cent, or 3p, to 66.5p). 

MyHealthChecked shares rose 34.5 per cent, or 0.5p, to 1.95p. But it wasn’t such good news for another junior market group, Abingdon Health.

London-listed biotechnology minnows have been just as fast-moving and innovative as the big-name pharmaceutical companies – and in some cases more so.

Stock Watch – Shearwater 

Cybersecurity group Shearwater has bagged contracts worth £860,000 with one of Britain’s biggest investment banks.

The unnamed bank has renewed two contracts for 12 months and signed two new three-year deals, as it bolsters its defences against sophisticated online attacks.

Shares rose 10.4 per cent, or 14.5p, to 154p, with pre-Christmas sales ‘buoyant’ and revenues up more than a third in October and November compared with the same months in 2019.

The prospects for Abingdon and its partners, known as the UK Rapid Test Consortium, were promising. In July, its finger prick blood antibody test was given approval by European health regulators for professional use.

But the big goal has been to get the same approval for at-home testing – and the UK Government has gone so far as to put in an order for 1m of the tests.

But Abingdon and fellow groups in its efforts, such as Omega Diagnostics (up 3.2 per cent, or 2p, to 64p) and Oxford University, have struggled to get this rubber stamp after questions were raised about how effective the test is.

The group has missed a deadline with the Government, which said it could cancel its order if the test didn’t obtain the required standard by Christmas. 

Abingdon is still in talks with the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, but the delay saw it fall 4.1 per cent, or 4p, to 93.5p.

The wider market surged on the first day of post-Christmas trading, as traders digested Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. 

The FTSE 100 rose 1.6 per cent, or 100.54 points, to 6602.65, its highest since March, while the FTSE 250 rose 1.7 per cent, or 350.91 points, to 20,897.59.

Big oil companies BP (down 0.3 per cent, or 0.65p, to 262.35p) and Royal Dutch Shell (up 0.1 per cent, or 1.2p, to 1328.8p) had mixed fortunes, as prices gained and settled above $51 a barrel. 

But banks lost out as the City fretted about what the new agreement might mean for financial services. 

Lloyds slid 4.8 per cent, or 1.85p, to 36.76p, Natwest fell 3.3 per cent, or 5.6p, to 163.35p, while Barclays shed 3.4 per cent, or 5.82p, to 149.28p.

Under-fire payments firm Network International jumped 5.7 per cent, or 17.4p, to 321.4p after non-executive director Al Haeri Mazanderani bought £130,000 of shares.

The FTSE 250-listed firm has been attacked by short-sellers and research outfit Shadowfall because of its takeover of an African payments group, DPO, which was linked to the collapsed German fintech company Wirecard.

Car dealership Lookers, whose shares are suspended, was given a bloody nose by shareholders over executive pay. 

Around 29 per cent of votes at its annual meeting opposed the payouts, including Mark Raban’s £450,000 salary, as the company tries to repair its reputation from an accounting fraud scandal. Raban was previously finance boss.

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