To increase the production capacity of aerosol-barrier filters used in filtered pipettes for COVID-19 and other infectious disease testing, the U.S. Departments of Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded a $16.2 million contract to expand the pipette-tip filter supply chain to Porex, a subsidiary of Filtration Group that develops custom-engineered porous polymer solutions. 

During 2020, the diagnostic industry suffered critical shortages in the clinical lab consumables, such as pipette-tip filters, necessary to both test and diagnose the COVID-19 virus, according to the company. Because the virus is readily diagnosed via polymerase chain reaction testing, filtered pipette tips are necessary to prevent cross-contamination of infectious aerosols into the samples and test equipment used by diagnostics, research, and blood transfusion laboratories. 

According to Porex, the pipette-tip filter supply chain investment will allow the company to increase its domestic filter production by more than 50% per month at its Fairburn, Ga., facility, which is expected to be completed by October 2022. The company will also expand its existing infrastructure and add new production equipment to supply pipette tip filters critical to molecular test accuracy. Nearly 60% of the award is being placed with U.S. small businesses, and the investment will enable Porex to add dozens of new U.S. manufacturing jobs in South Fulton County, Ga.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that industry capacity expand to ensure ample supply of components that will enable efficient, accurate test results without delay,” says Rob Carpio, president of Porex. “We are proud to be collaborating with the DoD and HHS to improve molecular diagnostic readiness and reliability for whatever testing demands we encounter in the future.”

From a pool of 91 U.S. companies, Porex was selected in part because of its Certified Pure Porex laboratory media and filters, which prevent material additives, contaminants, and heavy metals from interfering with clinical, analytical, and blood transfusion testing accuracy. The pipette tip filters manufactured through this investment will include Edison-Award-winning Fortress filters, which provide sample protection from aerosols and aspirated liquids, as well as pipette tip filters designed specifically for automated assembly systems. 

Featured Image: Examples of a pipette-tip filter. Photo: Porex