Clare medtech manufacturing site producing antibody tests for worldwide detection of COVID-19

July 29, 2020

A medical technology facility in Tulla, Co Clare is involved in development of tests to detect coronavirus antibodies to track the spread geographically in real-time worldwide. The site is run by Beckman Coulter, which provides clinical diagnostic products and comprehensive clinical laboratory solutions and is the latest to be highlighted as part of the Irish Medtech Association’s #medtechgoodnews campaign. 

The antibody tests could be a vital tool for determining who has already been infected and might have immunity to the virus. Testing for SARS-CoV-2 is at increased demand in order to better quantify the number of cases of COVID-19, including those individuals who may be asymptomatic or have recovered. 

Nessa Fennelly, Acting Director of the Irish Medtech Association said: "As part of this campaign, the Irish Medtech Association is highlighting how medtech leaders in Ireland are assisting the frontline fight against COVID-19 here, and across the world. Ireland’s medtech community has stepped-up to the challenge in the face of unprecedented need to deliver diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment, respiratory support equipment and digital health solutions to tackle COVID-19. 

"Beckman Coulter is the largest employer in the East Clare region and is one of a cluster of medtech facilities in the Mid-West. Their work highlights how our sector drives balanced regional development and provides high quality employment all over the country.

"Clare personnel were involved in the development of this assay right from the start, they supported the development when required, transferred it into routine manufacturing from R&D and also directed the Project management."

Orlaith Lawler, Senior Director of Beckman Coulter said: "The development and manufacturing of this product was done across three Beckman sites. The Research and Development was done in Marseille along with some manufacturing, the first reagents were manufactured in Clare facility and ongoing Quality Controls and reagents will be manufactured in the US."

The benefits of the tests include:

They could one day help support decision making as to whether people can return to work;
They could determine the people who may qualify for a vaccination once it is available;
They could identify individuals who have recovered to see if they can donate plasma that may be used as a treatment for people with severe forms of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

"We have just added over a 70% footprint expansion in Tulla and hit over 400 employees for the first time during the month of May. Staff at the Tulla site are engaged in R&D, manufacturing and product support activities and many of the roles based out of Clare have European responsibilities."