Thermo Fisher Scientific expands COVID-19 response by adding manufacturing capacity for sample collection products in Europe

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the world leader in serving science, today announced it will significantly expand capacity for specialised sample collection products in Perth, given the significant demand for COVID-19 testing.

The added capacity and increased efficiencies will allow the company to scale production in Perth to more than 8 million filled tubes per week. This is in addition to the 8 million tubes produced per week at Thermo Fisher’s new manufacturing site in Lenexa, Kansas, US.

Sample collection products are critical to effective testing for every individual. Media is aseptically dispensed into tubes that are used to safely collect and transport clinical specimens that may contain the virus. This ensures that the sample collected from a COVID-19 nose swab maintains viability while it is sent to a laboratory for processing. Without the protection of sample collection kits, COVID-19 virus samples could lose their integrity, leading to inaccurate results.

The company expects to create approximately 200 new full-time jobs in 2020 and plans to complete the expansion in Q1 2021.

“With the expansion of our site in Perth, we are continuing to rapidly increase production of sample collection products to meet an urgent national and international demand for COVID-19 testing,” said Stewart Blair, site leader and director of European prepared media operations for Thermo Fisher.

“We are investing in the United Kingdom, for the United Kingdom, and our employees are honoured to support the national effort to reinforce current testing operations.”

Scottish Government Innovation Minister Ivan McKee, said: “Scotland is already the leading part of the UK, outside of London for attracting inward investment. This announcement by Thermo Fisher shows the importance of continuing to attract such investment to Scotland, creating high value jobs across the country.”

McKee added, “Thermo Fisher is a huge part of Scotland’s life sciences industry and plays a key role in our response to the COVID-19 crisis supplying test kits, analysers and logistical support to the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow, and NHS labs across the country. The planned expansion in Perth will help to meet future demand for testing supplies, and will support Scotland’s economic growth by creating skilled jobs in the life sciences sector.”

Linda Hanna, managing director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Thermo Fisher’s investment in its expansion and the creation of 200 new jobs in Scotland is very welcome news in the current economic climate. We’ve worked with the company for a number of years, initially with its Inchinnan manufacturing site expansion, and we’re pleased to continue this support, alongside our partners, with its Perth expansion.

"This increased production capacity helps demonstrate that Scottish manufacturing can meet the growing demand for COVID-19 testing at home and overseas. More importantly, it means COVID-19 samples can continue to be collected and transported safely as part of the global pandemic response.”

In support of the site expansion, the Perth and Kinross Council helped the project through the planning and building warrant process, getting planning in place in record time.

Murray Lyle, leader of Perth and Kinross Council, said: “I am delighted that Thermo Fisher are expanding their production facility and investing in Perth, boosting the local job market and economy. However, we must acknowledge the circumstances in which this expansion has become necessary. The medical testing equipment Thermo Fisher manufactures is vital and as we continue to move forward with returning to as normal a way of life as possible this equipment will be more important than ever.”

Councillor John Rebbeck, elected member for ward 11 – Perth City North and member of the SNP Group, said: “the creation of hundreds of jobs at a variety of skills sets and levels will create new opportunities for those looking to get into the job market for the first time or re-enter the job market, which is great news for Perth City North and the wider area.”

Councillor Harry Coates, elected member for ward 11 – Perth City North and member of the Conservative Group, said: “I would like to thank Council officers for their hard work supporting the company and other agencies, which has helped to make this happen. We’ll continue working closely with Thermo Fisher to ensure that the expansion can move forward as quickly as possible: as part of the PK Offer, we are committed to supporting economic growth and making sure Perth and Kinross is open for business.”

Investment in Perth comes on the heels of a similar investment in Lenexa, Kansas, US.  In Lenexa, Thermo Fisher expanded production capacity for viral transport media by building out a new manufacturing plant.

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