FALL RIVER – If you haven’t been lucky lately finding in-home COVID-19 test kits in drugstores and stores – and there’s a good chance you haven’t – you can contact Merrow Manufacturing.
” They are available ; they’re there, ”said Charlie Merrow, CEO of Merrow Manufacturing.
Fall River’s maker of overlock sewing machines and commercial “soft products” took delivery last weekend of 500,000 test kits made by South Korean biopharmaceutical company Celltrion.
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Each Celltrion DiaTrust box contains 25 antigen rapid diagnostic test kits. They sell for $ 325 per box, which comes down to $ 13 per nasal swab test kit.
Local stores almost always sold two kits per box, when they were able to keep them in stock.
Merrow said he plans to take delivery of test kits containing just two test kits soon.
All air shipments, he said, arrive at either Rhode Island’s TF Green Airport or Boston’s Logan International Airport.
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Merrow said he was confident Celltrion would deliver half a million test kits over the next six weeks – roughly 3 million home coronavirus test kits that would be available to the general public.
He says he prioritizes orders placed from the southeastern region of the state and Rhode Island.
With other brands of test kits in demand, he said, “You can order millions but only get thousands.”
Self-test kits for employees and the general public
Merrow, 44, said he struck a deal with the South Korean company last November as he tried to find a reliable test kit maker who could provide a six-month supply to its 300 employees.
Merrow said that, for now at least, his employees have the option of being tested on the job site.
He says there is no minimum or maximum quantity requirement or limitation when ordering Celltrion kits – which can be picked up from the Merrow Manufacturing building at 502 Bedford St., or delivered the next day by UPS when the orders are placed before 3 p.m.
Orders should be placed online at pcrplan.com or [email protected], the latter of which is for large orders.
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In addition to the current retail price for businesses, nonprofits and individuals, Merrow said municipalities may pay a slightly cheaper purchase price because his company qualified for a supply contract. Statewide Homeland Security, Public Safety and Highway Safety HLS06.
Merrow said he ordered rapid test kits instead of “standard” PCR tests due to the 15-minute test result turnaround.
“PCR is taking too long and the labs (that process these tests) are filling up,” he said.
Merrow said he would donate the kits to a number of nonprofits that request them.
On Monday, he said, two days after taking delivery of 20,000 boxes of separate kits, Merrow said he had donated test kits to the United Way of New Bedford and Round The Bend Farms, based in Dartmouth. .
Avoiding black market sales in a context of price volatility
Merrow says he’s concerned that some people will try to buy quantities of 25-kit packs to sell on the black market.
He said if an order arrives for an unusually large amount, he will do his best to verify that the buyer has good intentions.
“It’s going to happen,” Merrow said. “We anticipate there will be bad actors, but we will be looking at them.”
He also said he would not sell kits to wholesalers.
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Merrow said the home COVID test kit market is unpredictable and volatile. He says wholesale prices have doubled in the past two weeks.
Celltrion kits are more expensive than those offered by Chinese competitors, but he insists that they are of better quality.
Merrow said he was proud to know that a Fall River company has succeeded in amassing such a large inventory of home antigen testing kits, just as infection rates with omicron variants continue to climb. soar in the country.
“It’s a combination of entrepreneurship and community involvement,” he said.
Merrow also said the key to his company’s success in finding a reliable source of test kits – at a time when they are so scarce – comes down to forethought.
“Planning wins,” he said.
Charles Winokoor can be contacted at [email protected] Support local journalism and subscribe to The Herald News today.
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Merrow Manufacturing in Fall River selling 500,000 COVID rapid tests