COVID-19 Global Diaries: 'Our tests may bring us out of this nightmare earlier than expected'

Helping to flatten the curve is what Maria Halasz and her company Cellmid are doing, by launching COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests that are really making a difference

covid 19 tests

Helping to flatten the curve is what Maria Halasz and her company Cellmid are doing, by launching COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests that are really making a difference

In January I became aware of the rapidly spreading coronavirus and was immediately filled with a sense of urgency. I wanted to help, but I don’t think anybody quite knew what we were facing. What we did know, however, was that this was coming - as early as 2007 scientists have warned us about a coronavirus that could potentially be very dangerous.

At Cellmid, we're a life sciences company where we research drug and diagnostic development, and we were all watching the data coming in from China. What became clear was the importance of testing. So in early February we started looking at alternatives for widespread testing. There it was, our opportunity to help.

covid-19 tests

Maria Halasz, CEO of the life sciences company Cellmid

In the past two months we’ve been playing our part in Australia’s relentless effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. How? Through an agreement to supply rapid diagnostic tests (RDT); these use an antibody detection method that picks up the infection through a small amount of the patient’s blood and put into the test kit. The technology is incredible. What it actually does is look at how the body responds to the infection and the results come back in anywhere between three and 15 minutes.

It essentially means that the 18 hour-days my team and I are doing are worth it, our ethical biotech company is doing something to assist in flattening the curve of the virus, hopefully meaning we will come out of this nightmare earlier then expected.

Maria Coole

Maria Coole is a contributing editor on Marie Claire.

Hello Marie Claire readers – you have reached your daily destination. I really hope you’re enjoying our reads and I'm very interested to know what you shared, liked and didn’t like (gah, it happens) by emailing me at:

But if you fancy finding out who you’re venting to then let me tell you I’m the one on the team that remembers the Spice Girls the first time round. I confidently predicted they’d be a one-hit wonder in the pages of Bliss magazine where I was deputy editor through the second half of the 90s. Having soundly killed any career ambitions in music journalism I’ve managed to keep myself in glow-boosting moisturisers and theatre tickets with a centuries-spanning career in journalism.

Yes, predating t’internet, when 'I’ll fax you' was grunted down a phone with a cord attached to it; when Glastonbury was still accessible by casually going under or over a flimsy fence; when gatecrashing a Foo Fighters aftershow party was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy and tapping Dave Grohl on the shoulder was... oh sorry I like to ramble.

Originally born and bred in that there Welsh seaside town kindly given a new lease of life by Gavin & Stacey, I started out as a junior writer for the Girl Guides and eventually earned enough Brownie points to move on and have a blast as deputy editor of Bliss, New Woman and editor of People newspaper magazine. I was on the launch team of Look in 2007 - where I stuck around as deputy editor and acting editor for almost ten years - shaping a magazine and website at the forefront of body positivity, mental wellbeing and empowering features. More recently, I’ve been Closer executive editor, assistant editor at the Financial Times’s How To Spend It (yes thanks, no probs with that life skill) and now I’m making my inner fangirl’s dream come true by working on this agenda-setting brand, the one that inspired me to become a journalist when Marie Claire launched back in 1988.

I’m a theatre addict, lover of Marvel franchises, most hard cheeses, all types of trees, half-price Itsu, cats, Dr Who, cherry tomatoes, Curly-Wurly, cats, blueberries, cats, boiled eggs, cats, maxi dresses, cats, Adidas shelltops, cats and their kittens. I’ve never knowingly operated any household white goods and once served Ripples as a main course. And finally, always remember what the late great Nora Ephron said, ‘Everything is copy.’