The Hong Kong company Prenetics analyzes the virus in the league. Its executive director Avi Lasarov in a long interview with Football London told how the testing works and what role Rio Ferdinand played in its creation.
When the Premier League introduced regular coronavirus tests among players last year, there was a need to protect stadiums and training bases as much as possible. In the early stages, the outbreak could disrupt the entire season, leading to a financial catastrophe. The league decided that external experience would be needed to build such an infrastructure.
Ferdinand and Prenetics appeared here. Rio has invested in the biotechnology company DNAfit, founded by its neighbor Avi Lazarov in 2018. It was later acquired by the Hong Kong company Prenetics International, and Lazarov headed the European division.
When the pandemic hit, the company had to rebuild to survive. Prenetics, which has already performed PCR tests as part of DNA testing, has switched to testing for viruses. They soon offered services to the Premier League, and the parties quickly agreed. And when it became clear that everything worked out, Prenetics signed contracts with the England national cricket team, "Formula 1" and many British airports.
Lazarov says Ferdinand's playing experience helped them build a test-taking system: "He introduced us to the thinking of a world-class athlete - what they think they do on the team - so we can create the most effective way to work in this environment." .
Ferdinand also played an important role in the players' fight against fear. Lazarov says that the tests worried the players, so Rio filmed the process of passing the analysis on video, and these shots were distributed among the players.
"We made this video because the players read in the media that the smear was allegedly injected into the back of the brain," says Lazarov. - This still worries. So Rio made a video to reassure people involved in the process for the first time. "
How does the Prenetics system work? The company offers two types of tests - PCR, which is considered the most reliable, and OxLamp technology, which shows the result faster.
Every football player, coach or employee of the Premier League club has an electronic health passport - a mobile application linked to the league database. In the application that monitors all tests, you must regularly fill out health questionnaires. When entering the stadium, a Prenetics employee checks this passport - if the participant has not filled out the form or forgot to enter important information, he will not be allowed.
Twice a week, Prenetics staff travels to the training bases of EPL clubs and tests players and other staff. It does not take much time - everyone passes the tests when entering the base, you do not even need to get out of the car. Here's what it looks like:
Then the smears are sent to the laboratory, and then Prenetics reports the results to the league, club doctors and players. Clubs themselves decide whether to announce positive tests publicly - some do so, others remain anonymous. The Premier League publishes only the number of positive tests without specific information about the infected.
Prenetics also provides additional services - for example, testing players at airports when they return from national teams.
During the pandemic, the number of Prenetics employees increased from 30 to 250. The company plans to participate in the return of fans to the stands. According to Lazarov, a health passport that has proven its effectiveness can help. However, neither the Premier League nor Prenetics have taken any concrete steps yet - due to the deteriorating situation with Covid, the fans will have to be forgotten for now.