HHS invests in diagnostic labs to expand COVID-19 testing capacity in the U.S.

Aug. 17, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced combined investments of $6.5 million in two commercial diagnostic laboratories to expand capacity to conduct up to 4 million additional SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) tests per month, according to a press release from the HHS. The investments in Aegis Sciences Corporation and in Sonic Healthcare USA will provide critical laboratory equipment supplied by Beckman Coulter Life Sciences and Thermo Fisher Scientific and increase staffing and infrastructure to allow the U.S. to perform an additional 1 million tests each week by early October.

"We are committed to leveraging every possible opportunity to expand the nation's SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity over the next several months," said Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett Giroir, MD. "For this opportunity, we were able to match available instrumentation and reagents with commercial labs that were ready to immediately expand their services. We are honored to work with these labs and life sciences tools companies to ensure increased access to testing as may be needed this fall."

In response to HHS investment, Aegis will rapidly expand its laboratory workforce and begin construction on new laboratory space at its testing facilities in Nashville, TN, to meet its goal of processing more than 60,000 test samples per day beginning in September. With its expanded daily testing capacity, Aegis has agreed to partner with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health to perform testing of samples from select locations with vulnerable populations. These tests will return results in under 48 hours.

Sonic Healthcare USA is collaborating closely with HHS to expeditiously ramp up their testing capacity at eight SARS-CoV-2 testing facilities. HHS will provide access to instrumentation and supplies necessary to rapidly expand the scope and expedite the timeline of their ongoing capacity expansion plans. The new testing capacity will significantly enhance patient access to SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing across the country.

Beckman Coulter Life Sciences will provide equipment that will enable laboratories to optimize their workflow, thereby increasing SARS-CoV-2 testing by up to 10,000 tests each day at 10 separate sites totaling an increase of 100,000 per day across the country.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is supplying HHS with 56 KingFisher Flex extraction and purification systems and 40 QuantStudio 7 Flex Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Each PCR test can run 384 samples at a time. These 96 systems – capable of running more than 140,000 samples per day, in total – will be placed at Aegis Sciences Corporation laboratories in Nashville, TN, and at Sonic Healthcare USA labs around the country.

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