Bethlehem-based OraSure gets ‘moonshot moment’ with nation’s pandemic response

Written by on March 24, 2022

Bethlehem-based OraSure gets ‘moonshot moment’ with nation’s pandemic response

By Megan Frank
March 24, 2022

OraSure officials say the company anticipates producing more than 200 million IntelliSwab COVID test kits per year. (WLVR photo | Megan Frank)

Job growth in the Lehigh Valley is the strongest it’s been since 1990, according to new data from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).  

LVEDC says job creation is critical to helping the region get out of the pandemic.  

Listen to the story.

Bethlehem-based OraSure is one company that’s created hundreds of local jobs over the last three years.  

Before the pandemic began, OraSure made its mark creating test kits for infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis C and ebola.  These days, it is known for its InteliSwab COVID test kits

Scott Gleason, OraSure’s interim chief financial officer, says responding to pandemic testing needs became the company’s “moonshot moment.”

“We were uniquely positioned as a company to develop an innovative diagnostic test (for COVID-19),” he said.  “To build that test, develop it, get it through the FDA and then commercialize it, it’s been a major achievement.” 

Gleason says OraSure has sold millions of InteliSwab COVID test kits since the pandemic began. 

In a recent earnings call, OraSure officials said the company anticipates producing more than 200 million COVID tests per year and will likely start selling them to other countries.

Gleason says that means more jobs are in store for the Lehigh Valley.

“In the last two years we’ve hired over 200 people in the Lehigh Valley,” he said. “So, for a small company we’ve almost doubled in size when you look at the last three years.” 

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh Valley) recently toured OraSure’s Bethlehem plant.  She talked about the importance of manufacturing pandemic-related items in the U.S. 

“We saw at the beginning of the pandemic that we have things made right here in the United States,” she said. “We had problems getting PPE, we had governors flying to China to pick up masks and that kind of thing – and we can’t ever find ourselves in that kind of situation again.”

Wild also said companies like OraSure enable the region’s young workforce to stay in the area and thrive. 

“I think it’s important for people who grow up here to understand that there are really good jobs right here at home,” she said. 

According to data from the LVEDC, the Lehigh Valley has also broken into the top 50 manufacturing markets in the country.  It’s also become the fastest-growing community in the state for young workers, according to LVEDC.

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