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Einstein to Produce VTM to Expand NYC COVID-19 Testing

Einstein will be producing critical supplies to support expanded COVID-19 testing in New York City.

The city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been limited by an extreme shortage of test kits, which consist of nasopharyngeal swabs to obtain samples from patients and tubes containing viral transport media (VTM) to maintain virus in the swabs until analyzed. On Sunday, May 3, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that NYC would overcome this bottleneck preventing widespread COVID-19 testing of residents by creating 50,000 COVID-19 testing kits per week. The NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) developed a partnership to make their own COVID-19 test kits by contracting with Einstein to produce up to 50,000 VTM tubes per week, and a 3D printing company, Print Parts, to produce the nasopharyngeal swabs.

“The EDC approached us two weeks ago about potentially making the virus transport media because they wanted to have the ability to make their own tests and not be dependent on external vendors who had insufficient stock,” said Harris Goldstein, MD, Associate Dean for Scientific Resources, The Charles Michael Chair in Autoimmune Diseases and Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology & Immunology, who facilitated the collaboration between Einstein and NYC EDC.

“I told them we appreciated how important it was for New Yorkers to support each other in this horrific time, as our clinical colleagues were doing, and we would mobilize our Core facilities, particularly the Molecular Cytogenetics Core (MCC), to provide that support,” he added.

Dr. Goldstein worked with Brian Pelowski, MBA, Assistant Dean for Scientific Operations, and the MCC leadership, Cristina Montagna, PhD, Scientific Director, and Jidong Shan, PhD, Operations Director, to rapidly execute a plan and coordinate the logistics of mass production of VTM tubes following CDC guidelines.

“Brian, Cristina, and Jidong have done an amazing job of mobilizing the needed resources and personnel to produce the VTM tubes and this week we are producing the first batch for the City lab to confirm the quality before giving us the green light to start production,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Learn more about this initiative on NBC News at