The U.S. government is rapidly scaling its quotas for COVID-19 testing and relying on drugmakers and manufacturers to step up to the challenge. Now, CDMO Thermo Fisher Scientific has scored a U.S. contract to help produce a key tool for the ramped-up testing.
Thermo Fisher Scientific has won a contract with the U.S. government to produce viral transport media (VTM) tubes to carry COVID-19 test samples to laboratories, the company said Monday.
Thermo Fisher has expanded its manufacturing capacity to 1 million media-filled tubes per week to meet increased demand for COVID-19 testing, the company said, including the new U.S. contract.
A Thermo Fisher spokesperson said the company was waiting for final details of the contract to be posted before releasing the financial terms of the deal.
While that 1 million-tube capacity is already double its normal production run, Thermo Fisher has big things planned in the near future.
The company is in the final stages of a $40 million expansion at its Lenexa, Kansas, facility to ramp up VTM production to 8 million doses per week, the company said. The Lenexa expansion is expected to be completed in the third quarter and will eventually employ 300.
"We have a proven blueprint for high-quality VTM production in Lenexa and look forward to bringing significant new capacity on line as quickly as possible to continue the necessary testing ramp-up in the U.S.," Thermo Fisher CEO Marc Casper said in a release.
Comprehensive testing also includes molecular tests for the disease, which detect the virus’s genetic material to diagnose an active infection. Thermo Fisher received an FDA emergency authorization for its PCR-based test kit in mid-March.