Thermo Fisher ramps up response to COVID-19

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Tuesday, 19 May, 2020


Thermo Fisher ramps up response to COVID-19

Serving science company Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced several new measures recently as part of its efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

To accelerate national, multi-institutional efforts focused on mapping coronavirus transmission and epidemiological studies, Thermo Fisher announced the SARS-CoV-2 GlobalAccess Sequencing Program for research consortia and industry groups battling the spread of the pandemic globally. Under the program, the company will provide 50 units of the Ion Torrent Genexus System at a subsidised price to support global collaborative COVID-19 research.

As countries begin to reopen, the need for real-time SARS-CoV-2 sequencing data that can be quickly and easily generated and shared among partners in the scientific community is critical. The Genexus System is a turnkey next-generation sequencing (NGS) solution that is designed to deliver results in a day with 5 min of hands-on time in a decentralised laboratory setting. When combined with the Ion AmpliSeq SARS-CoV-2 Research Panel, the platform provides laboratories with a powerful, specimen-to-report workflow to carry out infectious disease studies using minimal amounts of sample.

“The Genexus System is the only platform with the speed, ease of use and automation designed to help new-to-NGS and experienced researchers across multiple sites collaborate and quickly deliver critical data for today’s unprecedented research needs,” said Peter Silvester, Senior Vice President and President of Life Sciences Solutions at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “The GlobalAccess Sequencing Program leverages our heritage of supporting infectious disease outbreaks and makes our newest platform more accessible to those who are working together around the world to help answer the important questions associated with the pandemic.”

To learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 GlobalAccess Sequencing Program, contact GlobalAccess@thermofisher.com.

Thermo Fisher is also developing a total antibodies test with WuXi Diagnostics and the Mayo Clinic, continuing an ongoing collaboration between the three organisations. Manufacture of the Thermo Scientific OmniPath COVID-19 Total Antibody ELISA test will begin at the company’s sites in the US and Europe in the next few weeks as it prepares to seek FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and international regulatory authorisations.

Once approved for use, the test will detect Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG) to help clinicians determine if a patient has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The test is designed to run on an open instrument platform, and the determination of antibody status will aid in the diagnosis of the disease during the acute and recovery stages of infection.

“Stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires comprehensive testing solutions, and we are very pleased to join forces with WuXi Diagnostics and Mayo Clinic to respond to the widespread need for antibody-based tests,” said Thermo Fisher Chairman, President and CEO Marc N Casper. “Working together, we will now be able to provide governments, healthcare systems and communities with yet another important tool to aid in the fight against the pandemic.”

Finally, Thermo Fisher has received a contract from the US Government to provide highly specialised viral transport media (VTM) for COVID-19 sample collection. The VTM are used during collection of patient samples for proper transport to laboratories that can test for the presence of the virus.

To ensure accuracy of COVID-19 test results, VTM must be manufactured and dispensed into tubes in an aseptic environment. Thermo Fisher currently produces VTM at its site in Lenexa, Kansas, which meets this requirement, and has ramped production from 50,000 to more than one million VTM-filled tubes per week.

Given the significant demand for COVID-19 testing and associated sample collection, Thermo Fisher will expand capacity in Lenexa with a new $40 million facility dedicated to VTM production and quality control. The added capacity and increased efficiencies will allow the company to scale production to more than eight million VTM-filled tubes per week. The company plans to complete the new Lenexa facility in Q3 and expects that it will create approximately 300 new full-time jobs.

“Our production ramp-up in Lenexa has been impressive and our employees deserve recognition for their ingenuity and dedication to making this happen,” Casper said. “We have a proven blueprint for high-quality VTM production in Lenexa and look forward to bringing significant new capacity online as quickly as possible to continue the necessary testing ramp-up in the US.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/MiaStendal

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