August 11, 2020
The Lehigh Valley technology company developing a rapid, in-home coronavirus test will expand operations in Pennsylvania, adding more than 170 jobs as the state looks to increase its testing capacity.
OraSure Technologies, based in Bethlehem, received a funding proposal from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development that includes grants and tax credits to ramp operations.
The company is working on a rapid COVID-19 antigen test that would detect an active infection without any need for transporting samples to a lab for further processing.
A federal contract awarded in April aimed to expedite the timeline for the easy-to-use test, which will be submitted to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization prior to its debut in the U.S. market.
"OraSure's expansion means so much for Pennsylvania, including new career opportunities in the Lehigh Valley and increased testing capability for the state as a whole," said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. "As the commonwealth reopens safely, quick, accessible and accurate testing is critical for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and as we keep the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians our first priority."
In the past, OraSure has had success with saliva-based self-tests for both HIV-1 and HIV-2. The COVID-19 test will rely on a similar portable method with no additional instrumentation required for sample collection.
In addition to the rapid self-test, OraSure is working on a lab-based antibody test that it plans to submit to the FDA as well.
Relative to its population, Pennsylvania has been among the worst states in the country for total COVID-19 tests administered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The lack of aggregate testing is especially problematic because the state has among the highest percentages of its population to test positive for the virus.
"One of the keys to stopping the spread of COVID-19 is expanding access to testing," Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. "I want to thank OraSure for its commitment to saving lives, not just in Pennsylvania, but throughout the world."
The expansion of manufacturing operations will add a total of 177 new jobs to the company's existing 233 jobs.
"OraSure has a legacy of helping to solve the world's most difficult diagnostic challenges. Increased COVID-19 testing will be critical as we reopen our economy. We believe our rapid antigen test will be a game changer that enables frequent testing with fast results," said OraSure President and CEO Stephen S. Tang. "We are proud of our dedicated Pennsylvania team members and the extraordinary work they do. We thank Governor Wolf and his team for the ability to retain and grow our Bethlehem workforce."