Thank you. I appreciate the invitation to attend today's meeting and talk about my company, Spartan Bioscience. It's an honour to address you, the members of Parliament on the government operations committee.
I am Spartan Bioscience's chief executive officer. I am responsible for setting the company's strategy and leading its implementation. I hold a medical degree from the University of Ottawa. My specialty lies in infectious disease and microbiology.
I started Spartan Bioscience 15 years ago, with a mission of bringing the power of DNA testing to everyone. I had a close family member who was diagnosed with leukemia. It took weeks to get DNA results back from the lab before he could start a life-saving drug. That gave me the idea of bringing these DNA analyzers out of the lab for everyone to use, in the same way that we take it for granted that we can test ourselves with blood glucose meters in our homes. Our vision is how to do the same with DNA testing.
Driven by our mission, Spartan has grown into a leading biotechnology company. We have developed the world's smallest DNA analyzer. Our technology has received FDA and Health Canada approval and has been validated by expert organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Mayo Clinic. Our technology has also been published in prestigious medical journals, including The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the top medical journals. We believe that our fast, accurate, affordable and portable tests will make DNA testing accessible to everyone in fields as diverse as infectious disease, precision medicine, food and water safety testing and veterinary diagnostics.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had applied our technology to a variety of fields. One of our first tests was a precision medicine test that is used by cardiologists for a drug called Plavix. It was the number two bestselling drug of all time after Lipitor. This drug is not activated properly by 30% of patients because they carry a mutation that prevents their liver from activating the prodrug and puts them at a much higher risk of cardiac complications. With our rapid test, cardiologists can help their patients avoid these side effects. Another one of our tests is for genetic pre-screening for Alzheimer's research that is able to identify the 20% of people who carry genetic risk mutations that increase their risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Finally, we've also applied our technology to environmental testing, specifically testing water systems in buildings for legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria can contaminate water systems, including office buildings here in the Ottawa area. People who breathe in water contaminated by this bacteria are at risk of legionnaires' disease, a severe pneumonia that kills 10% of infected people. Our test is now one of the world-leading tests that's used by the CDC, the New York State Department of Health and Fortune 500 companies.
All of the tests I mentioned run on the same coffee-cup-sized device that we call the Spartan cube. The analogy I like using is that it's like a Keurig coffee machine: once you have the device, it can run different pods.
All of this experience in R and D over the last 15 years allowed us to answer the call for increased COVID-19 testing. With the support of the Government of Canada through the industrial research assistance program, we were quickly able to adapt the CDC's validated COVID-19 test and put it onto our validated platform.
To give you a sense of how fast the timeline has been, on March 20, the Canadian government recognized our ability to help with the pandemic and signed a letter of intent with us. The following day, March 21, we reached an agreement with the Government of Ontario for a contract for 900,000 tests. Then on April 11, we received Health Canada approval for our COVID-19 test and immediately started shipping to our federal and provincial partners.
Without the government support we have received to date, both at the federal level and the provincial level from Premier Ford’s government, we would not have been able to create our rapid tests, nor been in a position to ramp up production to help meet Canada’s testing needs.
We are a proudly Canadian company. We are excited that our technology will be an important part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. This COVID-19 test that we've developed is going to be ideal for use in decentralized settings, such as remote communities, indigenous communities, and potentially airports, border crossings, doctors' offices, pharmacies and clinics.
Now that we have our test ready for use, we’re working around the clock to ramp up production to make our tests more widely available to Canadians. Our suppliers have been putting in an extraordinary effort and we are fortunate that they are based here in the Ottawa area, so we're not subject to export bans or the shortage of things such as swabs. To date, we've already shipped out thousands of test kits, and we have plans in place to ship out hundreds of thousands of tests per week by July.
The last few weeks have been like nothing our company has ever experienced. The ramp has been incredible. I have to give a lot of credit to Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Navdeep Bains, Premier Ford, Premier Legault and their officials for helping us ramp up so fast.