Thermo Fisher lays off another 218 workers as 3 COVID test-making sites shutter

Just a few months after it began pruning back operations at a trio of its test-making facilities in San Diego, Thermo Fisher Scientific is now completely uprooting all three.

The diagnostics giant will discontinue all sales and operations at the facilities in June, it confirmed in a statement sent to Fierce Medtech. The closures will result in the layoffs of a total of 218 workers, as detailed in a recent filing with the California Employment Development Department.

“Thermo Fisher invested heavily in supporting the global response to COVID over the last three years. As COVID moves from pandemic to endemic, we must make adjustments to meet current market demands,” a Thermo Fisher spokesperson said in the statement, noting, “we do not foresee customer demand for testing solutions returning to previous levels.”

Indeed, for all of 2022, though the medtech maker tallied year-over-year revenue growth of about 15%, it still saw COVID-related revenues drop by more than 60%—down to $3.1 billion for the year, compared to 2021’s massive $9.2 billion haul.

The closures represent “a consolidation of our operational footprint,” according to Thermo Fisher’s statement.

All three of the affected facilities—which are located on Kearny Villa Road, Cornerstone Court and Carroll Park Drive in San Diego—were associated with Mesa Biotech, which Thermo Fisher acquired in a deal that was worth up to $550 million and closed in February 2021.

Thermo Fisher picked up Mesa’s Accula point-of-care rapid PCR testing system in the buyout and quickly folded the platform into its own diagnostics portfolio, offering Accula tests for both COVID and the flu. Only about two years after the acquisition, however, Thermo Fisher’s website now notes that as of April 26, “Accula products are no longer available for direct purchase through Thermo Fisher Scientific.”

In the statement sent to Fierce Medtech this week, the company said it will continue to provide product support for already distributed Accula tests through their listed expiration dates. Additionally, per the website, “authorized distributors will continue to sell the Accula products until inventory runs out.”

The layoffs will begin June 10 and may stretch through June 30, according to a notice Thermo Fisher submitted to the Employment Development Department which was shared with Fierce Medtech by the agency. All affected workers have already been informed of their separation dates.

The cuts constitute all workers remaining at the three facilities after a previous round of layoffs, which eliminated a total of 230 jobs in January and February.

The soon-to-be laid-off workers span a variety of roles, according to a list attached to the notice, including many manufacturing operators as well as chemistry and molecular biology scientists, engineers and several director positions.

“Decisions that impact colleagues and their families are never taken lightly, and we are proud of our colleagues' role in the country’s pandemic response,” Thermo Fisher said in the statement. “All impacted colleagues will receive job transition support to aid them in finding new opportunities.”