March 11, 2020 / 9:56 PM / 21 days ago

Qiagen boosting production of chemical needed to test for coronavirus

March 11 (Reuters) - German molecular testing company Qiagen said on Wednesday it was ramping up production of a chemical used in some coronavirus tests, after a report that shortages could disrupt testing in the United States.

The company said extraordinary demand was "challenging" its capacity to supply RNA extraction kits used for some coronavirus testing.

"We are doing everything we can to manage our supply chains and meet the needs of customers in the most timely way possible," the company said in an emailed statement.

Qiagen said it is ramping up production at manufacturing sites in Hilden, Germany and Barcelona, Spain, moving to three shifts that will work seven days a week, hiring new staff, and using manufacturing capacity at a Maryland facility.

Qiagen is not the only company that makes kits to extract RNA, a kind of genetic material, from patient samples, a crucial step that labs must take to identify the virus.

But instructions for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's coronavirus testing kits posted online list only Qiagen products under "RNA Extraction Options".

Politico reported late on Tuesday that a shortage of extraction kits could delay coronavirus testing in the United States, which has been slow to ramp up testing even as the virus spreads.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc said last week it had agreed to acquire Qiagen in a $11.5 billion deal. (Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto; editing by Diane Craft)

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