Roche says demand for COVID-19 tests exceeds production

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Roche Holding AG’s production of coronavirus tests is falling behind in meeting the outsize global demand for them.

“The PCR tests that detect acute Covid infection, the demand exceeds our production,” Roche Chairman Christoph Franz said in an interview with Swiss daily newspaper Tages Anzeiger.

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant said it prioritizes sending tests based on medical needs and where the highest infection rates are, according to the paper. In some countries lacking the tools for analysis of the testing, the focus is on trying to supply diagnostic devices as quickly as possible, the chairman was quoted as saying.

Roche has formed working groups to look into various ideas for a new drug against Covid-19, but it’s uncertain whether they will result in a vaccine and how long any vaccine’s immunity to the coronavirus will last, the newspaper said.

Roche is also ramping up production to meet growing demand for antibody tests. Demand for antibody tests is much higher in countries like Switzerland where the costs are reimbursed, Franz said in the interview.

The chairman also said the economic consequences of the coronavirus include declining demand in some areas of standard care because the virus has prevented people from visiting doctors and hospitals.

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