Race to develop tests
Other companies are rushing to meet the demand for coronavirus testing as well. On Jan. 28, Salt Lake City-based Co-Diagnostics Inc. reported that it had successfully completed initial verification of an assay to screen for the presence of 2019-nCoV and would be ready to begin distributing its tests to affected markets soon.
Also last week, Austrian diagnostics company Ares Genetics GmbH announced a collaboration with BGI Group to make molecular tests for the new coronavirus available in Europe. The next-generation sequencing service will use BGI reagents. BGI has developed a real-time fluorescence PCR kit for detecting the strain, which produces results in several hours. The test kit has been approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration, and BGI said it has shipped about 50,000 kits to hospitals and disease control centers in China.
Also in the game is Cincinnati-based Meridian Bioscience Inc. The company recently touted its molecular diagnostic test in detecting 2019-nCoV. “The advantage of the Meridian Lyo-Ready 1-Step RT-qPCR Mix is that the assay can be set up and freeze-dried, so that they are highly stable, just requiring the patient sample to be added and the assay run,” said Liang Zhang, general manager for Meridian in China. “This means that patients can be screened very quickly to help stop the spread of the virus.”
Other companies still are monitoring the situation. In a roundup of comments on the potential impact of the coronavirus, released by Wells Fargo analyst Larry Biegelsen, Becton Dickinson said it is doing what it can to support those on the front lines of the crisis. “While BD does not have an official diagnostic test for the coronavirus, we have seen a number of additional orders in the last few weeks for our BD Max molecular system in China as it is an open system and local officials are looking to develop their own content to run tests.” The uptick is not expected to have a significant impact on business.
Resmed Inc. said it expects to see higher demand for ventilators, as occurred during the 2002 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak. “We’re actually working hard on our local supply chain” in China, the company said.