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Thermo Fisher Expands Lab Plastic Making for Coronavirus Support

Thermo Fisher Scientific TMO has come up with a new strategic initiative for coronavirus-induced healthcare support. The company recently invested over $140 million to increase the production of its laboratory plastics consumables. This comes as a measure to combat the historic increase in global demand not only for COVID-19 testing but also for development and manufacturing of therapies and vaccines.

Laboratory plastics that have witnessed increased demand include pipette and automation tips, storage tubes and plates, transfer pipettes, and packaging vials and bottles. In this regard, Thermo Fisher’s existing offerings include Thermo Scientific Nalgene and Nunc plasticware and the Thermo Scientific Manual and Electronic Pipetting Systems.

Thermo Fisher consumables already support critical COVID-19 work globally and include sample collection vials for diagnostic test kits, pipettes for test processing, lab essentials for research into therapies and vaccines. Further, its lab plastics support clinical and epidemiological studies and materials for vaccine production and biobanking.

With the latest investment in this line to pump up production of lab plastics, Thermo Fisher is creating more than 1,000 jobs across its manufacturing sites globally. The manufacturing sites that are currently being expanded for this are Rochester, N.Y.; Petaluma, CA; Monterrey and Tijuana, Mexico; and Joensuu, Finland. This entire initiative is targeted to increase automation capabilities, and optimize warehouse and sterilization capacity to improve supply chain.

TMO’s Comparative Position in Coronavirus Healthcare Support Space

In the initial days of the pandemic, Thermo Fisher took a three-pronged to control the impact of the crisis. First, the company implemented numerous health and safety protocols at its sites following CDC guidance and local regulations. Second, the company established incident response teams to create a process for managing new protocols at all sites. As part of the third principle, the company is focusing on executing its long-term growth strategy, conquering the short-term challenges and also generating new opportunities. The company is currently carefully managing costs while strategically investing to position the business for long-term share gain and accelerated growth.

Above all, the company has made significant progress in terms of development and production of COVID-19 testing, therapies and vaccines.

In March, Thermo Fisher successfully attained EUA from the FDA for its molecular diagnostic test. The test has been developed for the detection of nucleic acid, exclusively from SARS-CoV-2. The same month, the company announced that this test had received the CE mark in the European Union. In May, the company received an expanded EUA for its multiplex real-time PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS CoV 2.

In molecular diagnostics, the company is giving tough competition to players like Quest Diagnostics DGX (whose COVID-19 test service that got the FDA’s EUA on Mar 17) and LabCorp LH that also made a significant stride following the launch of RT PCR testing on Mar 5.

It also progressed with highly specialized viral transport media (VTM) for sample collection. At the end of the second quarter, the company noted that its PCR-based workflow is used in 50 countries. The company ended the quarter with enough capacity to produce more than 10 million tests per week.

Apart from PCR tests, the company is currently working on rapid serological test that can tell if a patient has ever been exposed to the virus. It is also developing a respiratory panel to help doctors determine whether a person has COVID-19 or different respiratory disease. In this regard, we note that in the field of rapid antibody testing, the company might face competition from Bio-Rad’s BIO blood-based immunoassay kit to identify antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.

Further, in terms of the development of therapeutics and vaccines, Thermo Fisher is partnering with a number of Pharma and bioTech customers who are working on pandemic related projects. Its pharma services network is working to produce existing drugs that are showing some effectiveness in treating COVID-19. At present, the company is working on more than 200 COVID-related projects globally.

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