Industrial giant 3M (NYSE:MMM) is working with researchers from MIT to develop a rapid-response COVID-19 test. The test was selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be included in a program to accelerate COVID-19 diagnostic initiatives.
The collaborators aim to provide a test that delivers highly accurate results within minutes, and that can be mass-produced. It will detect virus antigens via a paper-based device, and the results will be available at the point of testing.
The effort taps into 3M's expertise in medical device manufacturing, as well as its institutional experience in biomaterials and bioprocessing. It uses its biomaterials technology in the production of air filtration products, as well as in pathogen detection products used for food safety and testing.
The NIH's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Tech (RADx Tech) program will support a month-long process to verify that test meets the necessary standards and demonstrate that it can be produced on a large scale. RADx Tech provided $500,000 in initial funding; additional funding could be contributed at a later stage of the project's development.
3M has been supporting pandemic-related initiatives since January. It responded to a surge in global demand for its N95 respirator masks by doubling its prior production capability to a global rate of 1.1 billion per year. The company expects to almost double that rate again within 12 months to 2 billion per year.
The company has also been active in combating fraud and price-gouging related to the personal protective equipment and other safety products it manufactures. It has initiated several lawsuits to stop sellers from making fraudulent claims about fake or non-existent N95 masks.