Through a series of recent announcements, laboratory equipment manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific has revealed plans to expand materials production and develop new facilities through the remainder of the year. Much of their planned growth is in direct response to increased demand due to COVID-19.
The Massachusetts-based company signed a contract with the U.S. government to amp up production of a viral transport media (VTM) specifically created for COVID-19 collection. This VTM will provide the stable and sterile environment necessary for patient samples to make the trip from collection to the lab for viral testing. Current production hovers around 50,000 tubes per week, but Thermo Fisher hopes to bump that number up to more than 1 million soon.
Increased production will be possible due to a massive expansion within the works, in which Thermo Fisher will add on to its Lenexa, KS production facility. The company has allocated $40 million for this expansion, which will also see increased measures in quality control. Once completed, the new campus will be able to produce up to 8 million tubes of VTM per week, and will provide over 300 new jobs to the area.
Another viral vector production site is planned for Plainville, Massachusetts. This 290,000-sq-ft facility should open its doors in 2022, and create over 200 new jobs. Thermo Fisher has budgeted $180 million for the commercial manufacturing site, a chunk of money that comes from their promise in March to invest $475 million into biopharma business, with an emphasis on cell and gene therapies.
Chembio Diagnostics has also linked up with Thermo Fisher in a non-exclusive contract to help distribute their DPP COVID-19 System. This serological system tests for the virus by reading IgM and IgG antibody levels from just a fingerprick’s worth of blood. The diagnostic firm also produces a Micro Reader analyzer system for the blood test, which is already available through Thermo Fisher. Both companies hope the partnership will significantly increase healthcare facilities’ access to the tests.
With new facilities and distribution contracts, Thermo Fisher hopes to avoid the capacity bottlenecks that often arise during sudden upticks in therapy developments.