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Thermo Fisher seals US government deal to supply VTM tubes for COVID-19 testing

CDMO aims to ramp up production to 8 million tubes per week via $40 million Lenexa site expansion

Thermo Fisher Scientific has secured a US government contract to supply viral transport media (VTM) tubes for collection and transport to laboratories of patient samples to test for COVID-19, the contract development and manufacturing organisation said on Monday.

Thermo Fisher said that due to strong demand for COVID-19 testing, it will expand capacity at its Lenexa site in Kansas with a new USD 40 million facility dedicated to VTM production helping it to scale production to more than 8 million VTM-filled tubes per week.

The new Lenexa facility is scheduled to be completed in Q3 and will create around 300 full-time jobs.

Thermo Fisher’s VTM production has already increased from 50,000 to more than one million VTM-filled tubes per week in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Describing the production ramp-up as impressive, Thermo Fisher chairman, president and chief executive officer Marc Casper said employees deserved recognition for their ingenuity and dedication.

“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,” he added.

As of yet, no financial details of the US government contract have been released.

To ensure accuracy of COVID-19 test results, VTM must be manufactured and dispensed into tubes in an aseptic environment.

Last week, Thermo Fisher announced a collaboration with WuXi Diagnostics and Mayo Clinic to develop a COVID-19 antibody test, ELISA, to determine if a patient has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The company is in the process of seeking US FDA Emergency Use Authorization and international regulatory authorizations for the test.

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