Industry group successfully supplies reagent for COVID-19 testing

May 21, 2020

The COVID Alliance a group of companies, many of whom are in the biopharma sector, academic institutions and industry individuals, is pleased to announce today that it has successfully trialled and manufactured the reagent lysis buffer to the equivalent of 180,000 RT-PCR tests for the detection of COVID-19. 

The trial reagent was successfully manufactured by the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) and the buffer will be stored at a Health Service Executive (HSE) distribution centre where it will be made available to clinical laboratories in hospitals across Ireland.

The COVID Alliance is now ready to provide sufficient lysis buffer reagent for 245,000 tests as originally requested by the HSE. The  new supply chain has capacity to manufacture the reagent for the equivalent of over 750,000 tests in this initial phase and has sufficient raw materials to produce in excess of this if required. Lysis buffer is one of the key compounds used in RT-PCR testing. 

Commenting, Matt Moran, Director of BioPharmaChemIreland (BPCI), said: “BPCI members were delighted to be able to support this fantastic initiative to support the national effort and fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a great example of industry and academia coming together in common cause to solve a problem for the country in these very difficult times.”

Commenting, Eamon Judge, Chair of the COVID Alliance and Affiliate President of the ISPE (International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering), said: “At this extremely challenging time, it is heart-warming and reassuring to see academia and industry collaborate for the good of the country. Our motto says it all: Ní neart go cur le cheile – There is no strength without unity.”

Commenting, Prof Niall Barron, NIBRT, said: “NIBRT is delighted to contribute to this collaborative effort to relieve a critical bottleneck in the COVID-19 testing protocol. The rapid and coordinated action of so many individuals across numerous organisations has been truly impressive enabling sourcing of the active ingredient internationally to fully formulate lysis buffer in just a few weeks.”

The COVID Alliance includes an informal grouping of biopharma companies including Alexion, Bristol-Myers Squib, Eli Lilly, MSD and WuXi, and a number of academic institutions including Cork Institute of Technology, Royal College of Surgeons, Trinity College Dublin, Sligo IT, University College Cork and University of Limerick. The group was then supported by range of other companies in the BCPI network including Almac, Camida, Gilead Sciences, GSK and Henkel.   

The voluntary pro-bono members of the Alliance have taken many other initiatives in the crisis – from ensuring the capability the medical oxygen systems of over 30 hospital facilities to supporting the development of indigenous PPE manufacturing and the safe decontamination of PPE for reuse.