The Biden administration has announced a $137 million deal with Millipore Sigma, a division of Germany’s Merck KGaA, to increase the manufacturing capacity of a limited component of rapid COVID-19 test kits.
According to Reuters, the funds will be used to construct a new plant in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to create nitrocellulose membranes, the material used to show test results. A White House official said the project will take three years and allow nearly 85 million additional tests to be generated every month.
The White House official said, “It’s probably the most constrained piece of technology in expanding capacity, in making more of these over-the-counter or point-of-care tests. Adding that “This amount they’re going to produce is roughly equivalent to another billion over-the-counter tests being able to be made.” However, it is still unknown when the facility will reach its maximum production capacity.
A MilliporeSigma spokesperson stated, “Construction is expected to begin the second half of 2022, and initial planning and preparatory work is already underway. We estimate that the facility will be capable of providing lateral flow membranes in the latter part of 2024.” The representative also noted that the facility will help with COVID and “any future public health emergencies.”
Millipore Sigma is a major supplier for COVID-19 antigen test manufacturers in the United States. The agreement will be formally announced by the Department of Defense for the Department of Health and Human Services amid President Biden claiming that there is no federal solution to the pandemic, and problems should be solved at the state level.
In early December, Biden announced that he plans to deliver 500 million at-home COVID test kits to combat the outbreak, on top of a previous commitment of $3 billion for test kits. Health experts have called the proposal “too little, too late.”
The administration is reportedly using the Defense Production Act (DPA) to execute the deal, and there are several other contracts in the pipeline. Previously, the administration invoked the DPA, a 1950s Korean War-era regulation that allows federal agencies to expedite procurement orders dealing with national defense to accelerate the production of swabs and pipettes for COVID-19 test production.
The agreement has sparked concern that the government believes a high volume of COVID testing will be necessary for several years. Additionally, as people still clamor for tests, the agreement does not address the immediate problem shortages, which have resulted in long lines at testing centers in certain regions.
- Biden Administration Makes $137 Deal With German Pharmaceutical Company to Produce Covid Tests Well Into 2024 - December 31, 2021
- California Teacher Who Tried to Recruit Students for LGBTQ Club Responds to Critics - December 31, 2021
- Proposed Florida Bill Would Allow Certain Criminals to Serve Time in the Military Instead of Jail - December 31, 2021