KANSAS CITY, MO — A group of metro business leaders are working to flatten the COVID-19 curve in the Kansas City metro, and now they’re one step closer to doing that.
A very special delivery landed at Kansas City’s downtown airport Monday. Scientists and engineers from BGI Genomics flew in to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
“In China, basically it was a rapid deployment of testing and health care to really get things moving along very quickly,” BGI scientist Adam Borcherding said.
Borcherding believes testing is the key in understanding and slowing the spread of COVID-19.
BGI Genomics has been the main producer of COVID-19 tests in China. The company makes more than one million kits per day, distributing them to 70 countries throughout the world — and now in Kansas City.
BGI was actively looking to enter the market in the U.S. and sent 50,000 tests to its warehouse in California. One day after their arrival, BGI received an email, starting a chain of events that could change the course of the virus in the metro.
“We filed with the FDA and EUA (Emergency Use Authorization), and were really looking for a partner to do this with,” Borcherding said. “And as fate would have it, that became NorthPoint Development and Nathaniel.”
Concerned about the lack of testing in the Kansas City metro, NorthPoint Development CEO Nathaniel Hagedorn sent emails to anyone he could a BGI Genomics asking about testing kits.
“To me, this is a battle fought in minutes, in hours right? And that’s when I realized we had this need,” Hagedorn said. “I basically made it my mission: We’re gonna figure it out.”
Just 24 hours after Hagedorn received a response from BGI’s CEO, the tests were paid for and on their way to Kansas City.
Hagedorn is one of a half-dozen CEO’s who make up the C-19 KC Task Force. They decided to use their money, connections and know-how to get tests and supplies so desperately needed in the Kansas City metro.
“This is absolutely out-of-the-box thinking,” Borcherding said, “which is fantastic to see a group of local businessman and entrepreneurs is getting together to really make a dent in the problems that we’re having all over with access to testing.”
Borcherding and his crew will spend four days training medical staff at KU Hospital, which has set up a lab for processing BGI’s tests. Hundreds of tests can be processed in about an hour with the results coming back three hours later.
“Hopefully tens of thousands of kits can go through these labs in a week, and we’re looking to ramp that up as much as possible,” Borcherding said.
The processing will take place at KU Hospital, but this batch of tests will be distributed to health departments on both sides of the state line.
If all goes well, the tests could be in use as soon as next week.