Coralville company begins mass-production of COVID-19 test component

Integrated DNA Technologies is expected to manufacture 5 million primer and probe kits for coronavirus tests a week starting today.



Brooklyn Draisey, Managing Editor

A Coralville-based company has begun mass-producing a “key component” in coronavirus tests. 

Integrated DNA Technologies announced Monday in a press release that they have started manufacturing primer and probe kits, which help in analyzing the DNA of samples when testing for COVID-19, on a large scale. 

“We are honored to be the first company in the nation to have our primer and probe kits approved by the CDC for use as a key component of the CDC EUA testing protocol for the diagnosis and detection of COVID-19,” said IDT President Trey Martin in the release.

IDT manufactures custom nucleic acids for research, pharmaceutical development, and medical diagnosis. According to the release, IDT made enough kits to enable 3.5 million tests over the week of March 9, and is working to make 5 million kits per week starting Monday. 

All kits are being manufactured at the Coralville headquarters in cleanrooms to prevent contamination. The company has previously developed components of tests for the Ebola and Zika viruses and H1N1. 

“We continue to scale production to meet demand and we are in close communication with the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). IDT will also continue to supply its key component to laboratories, which may assist them in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine,” Martin said in the release.

In order to be tested for COVID-19, patients must meet certain criteria. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, one must meet one of the following criteria to receive resting from the State Hygienic Laboratory:

  • Hospitalized patients with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis
  • Adults over 60 years old with fever and respiratory symptoms and chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, or is taking immunosuppressive medication
  • Someone with fever or respiratory illness who live in congregate settings, such as long term care facilities, residence halls, or correctional facilities
  • Essential services personnel, such as health-care providers and law enforcement, with fever or respiratory illness

Previously, one had to get permission from the Iowa Department of Public Health in order to send a test to the State Hygienic Laboratory, but that is no longer the case.

As The Daily Iowan previously reported, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced at a Monday press conference that the State Hygienic Lab, a lab located in Iowa City that has been conducting the bulk of the coronavirus testing in Iowa, will add a second shift, bumping daily capacity from 54 to 108 tests. She said health officials are prepared to add a third shift if the situation warrants.