Life sciences and healthcare company Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) shipped the first batch of its novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kits to laboratories across the United States by Monday, chief executive officer Marc Casper told CNBC.
Thermo Fisher currently has about 1.5 million test kits in stock, Casper said, according to CNBC. The company plans to ramp up production to 2 million by next week, and then 5 million by April.
"We have already about 1.5 million tests in stock. We began shipping them yesterday and today," Casper said in an interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer. "But we're ramping up to about 2 million tests in production a week, and then over the course of April we'll be able to get that to about 5 million tests a week in terms of production."
Thermo Fisher was one of the two companies to be granted an emergency use authorization or EUA for the coronavirus vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration.
The license allows the company's "Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast Dx Real-time PCR" instrument to be used for COVID-19 diagnosis without it being FDA-approved, CNBC noted.
Why It Matters
There's a worldwide shortage of testing kits for the novel coronavirus, which is forcing health workers across the world to use triage tactics to determine who needs to be checked for the deadly virus, with priority being given to people with symptoms and relevant travel history.
The widespread availability of the testing kits could help identify more cases of the coronavirus and curb the spread within communities, especially from asymptomatic cases.
There's no vaccine available for the virus that has infected 182,407 people globally and killed 7,154, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The National Institute of Health began clinical trials of Moderna Inc.'s (NASDAQ: MRNA) vaccine on Monday, and tests for Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s (NASDAQ: INO) vaccine are expected to begin in April.
Thermo Fisher's shares traded 7.39% higher at $300 in the after-hours session on Monday. The stock closed the regular session 6.92% lower at $279.35 per share.