OraSure Technologies Draws National Attention for Its COVID-19 Testing Device
By Colin McEvoy on December 7, 2020
OraSure Technologies is in the national spotlight for its work in creating an over-the-counter COVID-19 testing device that can be used at home, without the presence of a healthcare professional, and provide results quickly.
The Bethlehem-based developer and manufacturer of point-of-care diagnostic tests and specimen collection devices was featured in the cover story of the nationally-broadcast CBS News Sunday Morning television program on Dec. 6.
The company hopes to have its test on the market by the first quarter of 2021.
“You look at a test strip – it has a control line, it has a test line – and within an hour you know the results,” OraSure President & CEO Dr. Stephen S. Tang said in the segment. “No waiting in line, no waiting for labs, no waiting for results to come back. You own the results yourself.”
The full six-and-a-half minute segment can be found on the CBS News website.
OraSure announced in August plans to expand its manufacturing operations in Lehigh Valley to help meet demands for the new in-home coronavirus self-test. The expansion will mean the creation and retention of more than 400 jobs in the region.
During an interview with NPR correspondent Allison Aubrey for the CBS segment, Tang discussed OraSure’s history in pioneering the first over-the-counter HIV test, which provides a positive or negative result to a user in just minutes and is widely available for over-the-counter use.
An example of the spirit of innovation in Lehigh Valley’s life sciences sector, OraSure has always been on the front lines when it comes to public health crises. In addition to its HIV and COVID-19 tests, the federal government sought OraSure’s help when the Ebola virus struck West Africa five years ago.
“Our experience in looking at pandemics, particularly HIV, around the world where the only way to test people was to develop a self-test seemed to be ultimately the right answer for this pandemic,” Tang said in the interview with Aubrey. “We can’t have people circulating in public waiting to get tested. The best way to test people is to have the ability for anybody, anywhere, any time to test themselves.”
Also during the segment, Dr. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health said rapid tests are key to preventing more deaths, and that the country would be safer if it had prioritized the type of test OraSure is making.
In addition to the CBS feature, Tang was featured in the inaugural broadcast of the “Meet the Manufacturer” virtual lecture series, hosted on Dec. 3 by the National Museum of Industrial History. The series seeks to introduce cutting-edge Lehigh Valley companies and their innovations to viewers near and far.
Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), moderated the discussion with Tang. They discussed the new COVID-19 test, the company’s hiring plans, and why Lehigh Valley is a great location not only for OraSure’s manufacturing, but also for its research and development.
“It’s vitally important from an innovation perspective that research & development and manufacturing exist in the same location,” Tang said. “We intend to grow both manufacturing and research & development here in the Lehigh Valley. So we’re always in the market for smart people that have technical backgrounds that want to be part of an innovative company.”
LVEDC sponsored the Meet the Manufacturer virtual lecture series, which was presented in partnership with the Made Possible Lehigh Valley initiative.
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