DoD Looks to Panther Fusion System for High-Throughput Coronavirus Diagnostics

The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (USAMRAA) announced a contract action to Hologic, Inc. this month to acquire the Panther Fusion open access platform for the clinical Panther system currently deployed within Diagnostics and Countermeasures Branch (DCB) at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR).

The Panther Fusion open access platform is a high-throughput platform technology that can be implemented for rapid coronavirus detection, Hologic pan-coronavirus (OC43, HKU1, NC63, 229E) and Gen Probe SARS-CoV-2 EUA assays.

Related: BARDA Backs Hologic’s High-Throughput COVID-19 Diagnostic

The deployment of the U.S. CDC Emergency Use Authorization assay has been plagued by problems with reagents, thus delaying implementation of testing in both civilian Department of Defense laboratories. The current SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic assays available within the U.S are executed on low throughput systems within both civilian and U.S. Military laboratory systems (30-60 patient tests per 8 hour period); thus limiting the ability to scale up to high-volume testing required in the dynamically changing epidemic situation.

This is of great concern to U.S. Army senior leaders; specifically, with regard to the lack of high throughput available to detect this infection in U.S. Military Operational and Deployed Forces. The identification of 77 SARS-CoV-2 infected U.S. citizens and two U.S. Service Members (1 in South Korea, 1in Italy) has critically underscored the mission essential requirement for robust, expanded test capability within the U.S. Military.

The Pentagon confirmed in a briefing Mar. 26 that the active duty COVID-19 case count had quadrupled in the past week, bringing DoD totals to 280 members of the military, 62 contractors, 134 Defense Department civilians and 98 military dependents positive for COVID-19.

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