Taiwan Advance Bio-Pharmaceutical Inc (TABP, 台灣尖端先進生技醫藥) and General Biologicals Corp (GBC, 普生股份) yesterday separately said that they have a good chance of being chosen to produce a rapid screening reagent for COVID-19.
The two were among 10 companies that attended a conference with Academia Sinica last week.
Yesterday’s announcement came after the institute on Sunday announced that it has synthesized a monoclonal antibody that can quickly identify the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“Academia Sinica said in the meeting that it has certain criteria to select qualified manufacturers for the test kits. It seems that we have a chance and we will keep in close contact with the institute,” TABP deputy director Chang Chih-feng (張志鋒) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
TABP, which focuses on test kits for antibiotics and pesticide residue in food, produces about 12,000 kits per week at its factory in New Taipei City, Chang said.
“We could allocate production capacity to mass produce the reagents by running the machines in extra shifts and recruit more operators,” he said.
As TABP has not produced reagents for human use, it might need to gain regulatory approval before starting production, he added.
GBC president Frank Lin (林孟德) said by phone that the supplier of diagnostic test kits for hepatitis B, C and D has a better chance of winning the contract, as it has been producing reagents for human use for more than 30 years.
“The production should not be difficult, as the institute is expected to provide the monoclonal antibody, which we can rapidly regenerate in mice,” Lin said.
“Synthesizing the monoclonal antibody that can identify COVID-19 is the more challenging part in the development of reagents, but we do not need to worry about it,” he said.
Both companies said they would continue negotiating with the institute over whether it would contract them to produce the kits.
The other companies that attended the meeting included AsiaGen Corp (亞洲基因), Firstep Bioresearch Inc (聯華生技), Panion & BF Biotech Inc (寶齡富錦), Formosa Biomedical Technology Corp (台塑生醫), Lihpao Life Science Corp (麗寶生醫), iXensor Co Ltd (安盛生科) and Eternal Materials Co Ltd (長興材料), said the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which helped organize the meeting.
“Many companies were interested in collaborating with Academia Sinica, as the business might be lucrative. Rapid screening reagents are not as accurate, but could be widely applied,” a ministry official said.
Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗), which last month sent an application to the health regulator for its new COVID-19 reagent that utilizes a polymerase chain reaction technique, said it would continue to focus on its own product, spokesman Leo Lee (李思賢) said.
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