Pentagon awards $136.7M contract for domestic production of material critical for rapid COVID-19 tests
The Department of Defense (DOD) announced on Wednesday that it was awarding a $136.7 million contract to the Merck-owned brand MilliporeSigma for the domestic production of a material critical for COVID-19 rapid point-of-care tests.
In a statement, the DOD said the contract — awarded on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services — will go toward the production of nitrocellulose membrane in the U.S. Nitrocellulose membrane is a key material for the production of rapid coronavirus tests.
“This industrial base expansion effort will allow MilliporeSigma to establish a nitrocellulose manufacturing capability in its Sheboygan, Wisconsin facility to support more than 83.3 million tests per month for COVID-19 testing and future needs,” said the DOD.
“With this agreement, MilliporeSigma will construct a state-of-the-art lateral flow membrane production facility that will give our invitro diagnostic (IVD) manufacturing customers greater flexibility and security of supply of our Hi-Flow™ Plus lateral flow membranes,” said Matthias Heinzel, a member of Merck’s executive board.
MilliporeSigma was formed in a merger between the Millipore Corporation, which was founded as an American brand in the 1950s and later acquired by the German Merck KGaA pharmaceutical company in 2010, and Sigma-Aldrich, another American company that was acquired by Merck in 2015.
COVID-19 tests have been in short supply in the U.S. as the spread of the highly-transmissible omicron variant has driven a surge in cases.
Earlier this week, President Biden acknowledged that more could have been done to ensure coronavirus testing availability.
“Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do. We’re doing it,” Biden said in a COVID-19 response team call with governors on Monday.
While touting the recently approved availability of at-home COVID-19 tests, Biden acknowledged that “it’s not enough, it’s clearly not enough.”
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.