In recent weeks, Opportunities NB (ONB) has been sharing the stories of companies across our province stepping up with their products and resources to aid the country’s COVID-19 response.
Fredericton biotechnology company LuminUltra Technologies is the latest New Brunswick business to join the country’s pandemic response effort. The company is increasing the production of reagents needed to supply COVID-19 tests across the entire country. LuminUltra says they will provide 500,000 COVID-19 tests per week to the federal government for use across Canada.
LuminUltra Chairman and CEO Pat Whalen tells us more.
ONB: Can you tell us about making the transition from ‘business as usual’ to COVID-19 response mode?
Whalen: Our daily operations are focused on delivering a very similar type of test to a different audience and market. We work predominantly internationally and with environmental testing applications including water, air, surfaces, etc. When we responded to the Prime Minister’s call to action on March 20th we quickly understood how we could apply our skills and experience to developing tests for the specific need of large scale COVID-19 testing. It’s been about applying our existing strengths to this application.
What exactly do these chemicals (reagents) do and how do they work in a COVID-19 test kit?
There are essentially three components to a diagnostic COVID-19 test. There’s 1) the swab collection, 2) the chemicals/reagents used to extract the RNA from the swab, and 3) the device that evaluates the result. We are providing step 2 which works with the existing government devices in their labs.
LuminUltra was quick to step up and offer its specialized products and services to respond to COVID-19. How does it feel to be able to contribute to Canada’s response on such a large, national scale?
We are extremely honoured to be working alongside the folks at the Public Health Agency of Canada. Our entire team has worked tirelessly to pull this together and I could not be prouder of the effort they’ve put in. We are making a difference in the lives of Canadians during this incredibly difficult time and that’s very important to us.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
While our focus remains on delivering the 500,000 tests per week to provincial health labs across Canada, we are also investigating the opportunity to deploy testing capabilities for assessing the presence of novel coronavirus and other infectious agents in public and private buildings and other communal areas. We believe that it is not only important to provide testing for clinical purposes but also for ensuring our environments are kept clean and safe as Canadians get back to their normal way of life in the future.
For more information on how your business can help respond to COVID-19, click here.
Read LuminUltra’s full press release here.
Written by Jason Boies
Images via LuminUltra