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Maryland company swamped with applicants to help assemble coronavirus test kits

Germantown, Maryland-based Qiagen rushing new COVID-19 test kit, awaiting FDA approval for use.

GERMANTOWN, Md. — German company Qiagen is racing to assemble new COVID-19 test kits. Already approved for use in Europe, Qiagen’s new kits are now getting assembled in their North American headquarters in Germantown, Maryland.

Credit: Nathan Baca
Qiagen's North American headquarters in Germantown, Maryland

The company got the word out through the Germantown-Gaithersburg Chamber of Commerce: It needed temporary workers, all training provided, no degree necessary, to help assemble the new testing kits.

Credit: Qiagen
Qiagen's Germantown job posting

"It does not require a PhD, a master's, or even a bachelor's degree to be intimately involved in this industry," said Richard Bendis, CEO of the non-profit BioHealth Innovation in Rockville.

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The FDA says Qiagen’s new test is up for “emergency use authorization.” However, as quick as the test kits can be assembled, the FDA’s normal approval process could take up to three months from now to approve using the kits. The President said Thursday morning some FDA requirements may be relaxed during the crisis.

WUSA9 got the word out on social media about Qiagen's job postings Thursday morning. But by that afternoon, some applicants told WUSA9 they had received automated messages saying the company had all the help it needed.

Credit: Qiagen
One of Qiagen's testing labs

Qiagen's Robert Reitze told WUSA9 late Thursday afternoon that "the number of applications that we have received has by far outnumbered the available capacity of currently open manufacturing positions. We are very excited about the huge interest of people in Maryland who want to join us in our response efforts to this public health crisis. We want to thank everyone for their applications and will continue to ramp up our production capacities in Germantown to meet a rapidly growing demand for coronavirus testing."

Qiagen did not release the number of open positions nor how many test kits were to be assembled in Germantown.

Credit: Qiagen
A collection of Qiagen's new COVID test kits

Bendis believes this hiring surge is a sign that one of the Capital Region’s largest industries is stepping up to the challenge of tackling coronavirus.

"We started referring to it as biohealth about 11 years ago," Bendis said. "The reason for that: it’s not just about biotechnology, like MedImmune and Human Genome sciences which were two of the largest companies that came out of the biotech sector. It’s biopharma. It’s medical devices, It’s bio markers. It’s tools."

Credit: Qiagen
A diagram showing how Qiagen's COVID test works

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