ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The demand for rapid results from COVID-19 tests has dramatically increased business for an Ithaca area company, Rheonix.
“In the first two months of shipping COVID product we generated more revenue than we had cumulative in the history of the company [8-years],” says Rheonix President and CEO Greg Galvin.
The company was granted Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 test back in late April.
The fully automated test enables detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, directly from respiratory samples.
The test is designed to operate on one of the company’s workstations and will be able to return same-day test results in as little as four and a half hours.
Rheonix has gone from 50 employees in February to 130 now to handle all the orders the company is getting for its testing equipment.
Galvin says, “When we first started down this path I didn’t even know if there was going to be a market for us given the major players already there that already had equipment in hospitals.”
But he says most of the ‘major players’ were sending equipment to major metro areas leaving companies like Rheonix to service small to medium-sized areas, like Onondaga and Broome Counties.
Part of the three-pronged approach to keep up with demand is to add more staff, more production equipment and install an automated line in a clean room currently under construction. The instrument alone is about $1-million, with a second one coming by the end of the year.
The Rheonix equipment can run 22 samples every four and a half hours per instrument. Galvin says you can multiply that for places that want to pool samples, so you get more results back fast.
“The days of waiting days or weeks to get a test result back are not acceptable, that wasn’t meeting anyone’s actual needs. The norm now is it’s gotta be same day or the next day,” Galvin tells NewsChannel 9.
The company is shipping a record number of test kits each week.
Galvin says, “I see no letting up on the path were on. The next major push that’s underway right now is to get approval for a flu plus COVID test. They’ll take one swab, like they do now, run the instrument like they do now but we’ll be able to identify if it’s COVID or if its flu.”
He says their core technology has the ability to look at multiple targets at the same time, though right now they’re setting up machines to just look for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Glavin says they can simply add Flu A, Flu B and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) plus COVID to the testing equipment.
A number of municipalities in Upstate New York are buying instruments from Rheonix, but Galvin says they’re also getting orders from New York City, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Vermont.