Thermo Fisher builds $40M coronavirus test tube manufacturing facility in 6 weeks

The addition to the Lenexa site brings on more than 300 full-time workers and has helped increased production to 8 million units per week. (Thermo Fisher)

To help meet the relentless demand for COVID-19 diagnostics, Thermo Fisher Scientific has stood up a new, $40 million manufacturing facility in six weeks. 

The 120,000-square-foot plant at its Lenexa, Kansas site will be dedicated to producing viral transport media, the combination of buffering solution and plastic tubes that keep swab samples viable until they can be tested in the lab for the novel coronavirus. 

Thermo Fisher was previously tapped by the U.S. government to provide large amounts of aseptic transport media, through a $381 million contract signed in May. That month, the company would ramp up production in Lenexa from 50,000 to over 1 million media-filled tubes per week.

Viral transport media tubes for the company's
MicroTest kits (Thermo Fisher)

"We have a proven blueprint for high-quality VTM production in Lenexa and look forward to bringing significant new capacity on line as quickly as possible to continue the necessary testing ramp-up in the U.S.," Thermo Fisher’s chairman, president and CEO, Marc Casper, said at the time.

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The company’s Lenexa site, located just outside Kansas City, previously manufactured a range of prepared media, collection and transport products, such as plates, bottles and tubes for biopharma and food laboratories. 

The latest addition, with an official ribbon-cutting held August 28, brings on more than 300 full-time workers and has since increased production to 8 million units per week, the company said.