Ohio Testing Reagent Approved; Testing Strike Team Formed

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Limited quantities of reagent have led to fewer possible tests in Ohio for COVID-19, the disease spread by the coronavirus. But a new reagent developed by an Ohio company could change that.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine got word from U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn that it approved a testing reagent developed by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., which has labs in Ohio. Most Ohio labs use Thermo Fisher machines, DeWine said, but they didn’t have enough reagent.

Now, the labs can runs test kits with the new reagent as well as current COVID-19 tests, DeWine said.

“This will significantly expand the capacity of these labs. It is not the only thing slowing us down, but it is significant,” DeWine said.

Thermo Fisher is hoping to produce enough of the reagent so that by mid-May, the state will see a “significant increase in tests,” DeWine said. The company is working with other companies to make more reagent kits to ramp up testing in Ohio.

“Testing is vital as we begin to reopen our economy,” DeWine said. “We want to reopen the economy. We want to get people back to work. It’s important that we do it the right way. That we do it the safe way.”

Last week, Thermo Fisher announced it was collaborating with Ford Motor Co. to expand production of COVID-19 testing kits by establishing new production machinery at the automaker’s Kansas City Assembly Plant.

DeWine also announced Tuesday the formation of a testing strike team comprised for former Ohio governors Dick Celeste, a Democrat, and Bob Taft, a Republican. Both have “a depth of experience in Ohio and internationally,” and will work with leaders in business, education and public health to source “critical testing items” and oversee how the state is expanding and maximizing its testing capabilities, DeWine said.

“Simply put, these two individuals know how to get things done,” DeWine said. “These are two remarkable individuals and I am very grateful that they were willing to come forward to help me and help the state of Ohio.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.