OraSure Technologies on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19

If you want to know what’s possible from Lehigh Valley’s life sciences sector, look no further than OraSure Technologies.

The Bethlehem-based developer and manufacturer of point-of-care diagnostic tests and specimen collection devices has always been on the front lines when it comes to public health crises, from HIV to Ebola outbreaks. And the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Now, OraSure is getting national attention for the work it’s doing here in the Lehigh Valley in creating an over-the-counter COVID-19 testing device that can be used at home, without the presence of a healthcare professional, and provide results quickly.

The company was featured in the cover story of the nationally-broadcast CBS News Sunday Morning television program on Dec. 6.

“Our experience in looking at pandemics, particularly HIV, around the world where the only way to test people was to develop a self-test seemed to be ultimately the right answer for this pandemic,” Tang said in the interview with NPR correspondent Allison Aubrey.

“We can’t have people circulating in public waiting to get tested,” Tang said. “The best way to test people is to have the ability for anybody, anywhere, any time to test themselves.”

The full six-and-a-half minute segment can be found on the CBS News website.

OraSure hopes to have its test on the market by the first quarter of 2021. The company announced in August plans to expand its manufacturing operations in Lehigh Valley to help meet demands for the new in-home coronavirus self-test.

The expansion will mean the creation and retention of more than 400 jobs in the region. That includes not only jobs in manufacturing, but in research and development as well, two aspects of OraSure’s business that benefit greatly from the company’s Lehigh Valley location, Tang said.

“It’s vitally important from an innovation perspective that research & development and manufacturing exist in the same location,” Tang said. “We intend to grow both manufacturing and research & development here in the Lehigh Valley. So we’re always in the market for smart people that have technical backgrounds that want to be part of an innovative company.”