Promega Helping Supply Materials For COVID-19 Tests

Increase In Demand Began When Outbreak First Occurred In China, Company Says

COVID-19 patient samples
A laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Lake Success, N.Y. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved faster testing protocols as the viral outbreak continues to spread worldwide. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. John Minchillo/AP Photo

Promega Corporation, the Fitchburg-based biotechnology company, is helping supply materials used in COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

Chuck York, Promega’s vice president of manufacturing operations, said the company is providing materials for 15 COVID-19-approved diagnostic tests around the world.

York said the company began seeing an increase in demand for testing materials beginning when the outbreak first occurred in China, and has been ramping up production of the materials since early January to meet what he called “unprecedented demand.”

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“I think everybody understands the impact of this,” York said. “It’s something we’ve never seen before. But I am seeing people come together. Not just at our company, but across the industry.”

“While it’s challenging, I remain hopeful we’re gonna fight through this,” York added.

Promega has support facilities in other parts of the country and globally, but York said the testing materials are primarily produced at the company’s Madison-area location.

“We are taking steps — social distancing and other precautions — to protect our workforce,” said York. “We want to protect our workforce because we’re critical to helping combat this globally.”

Even senior management is trying to stay spread out between different buildings, said York, who is spending most of his time in the company’s engineering building.