Cue Health to Produce Fast, Molecular COVID-19 Tests, Create Hundreds of Jobs at New Vista Facility
As lockdowns throughout the state of California and other parts of the nation and globe continue to fluctuate over a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, scientists and medical researchers are working around the clock on promising vaccines and tests – two vital keys in shifting society back to “normal.”
In fact, the vitally important COVID-19 test kit market could exceed $15 billion this year alone, according to areport from Global Market Insights.
One company that has ramped up its production of COVID-19 tests is San Diego-basedCue Health, Inc. Cue’s tests are in such demand, that it has expanded its operations into Vista, Calif. The company began moving into its 197,000 square-foot Vista facility in October, with plans to be fully operational by this month. The additional facility will be used for the production of Cue COVID-19 Test Cartridges. Cue plans to hire an additional up to 500 employees at its Vista location, with more expected in the future as the company continues to grow in research and manufacturing.
“In the future, we envision the production of other Cue tests at our Vista facility as we expand our diagnostic offerings,” said Ayub Khattak, Founder & CEO, Cue Health.
Cue’s test, which is backed by investors including Johnson & Johnson, is a molecular test that uses a sample collected from the lower part of the nose with the Cue Sample Wand and produces results in about 20 minutes. The company’s tests were most notably used in theNBA bubble.
Things have moved rather quickly for the 10-year-old company, which has increased production of its COVID-19 tests since receiving Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 10. In October, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Cue Health $481 million to expand its industrial base and production capacity to deliver six million COVID-19 tests and 30,000 Monitoring Systems to the U.S. Government to support the domestic pandemic response.
In November, Cue announced the HHS began deploying the company’s molecular, point-of-care COVID-19 tests to five states, including Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Texas. The Cue Health tests will be utilized for quick confirmatory testing of positives and suspicious negatives in high-concern populations and congregate care settings, such as nursing homes, long-term care, assisted living facilities, and veterans’ homes. The tests will also be used internally at the DoD.
“Our mission as a company has always been to provide patients and healthcare providers with access to actionable, accurate health data in real-time,” Khattak said. “The deployment of Cue’s point-of-care COVID-19 test will not only increase molecular testing capacity in critical locations but will also help protect the health of the most vulnerable populations by providing results quickly, in about 20 minutes.”
Cue’s COVID-19 test runs on the compact and portable Cue Health Monitoring System. A single-use COVID-19 test kit includes a sample wand and COVID-19 Test Cartridge. The system performs rapid molecular analysis at the point-of-care and transmits test results to the Cue Health App on a connected mobile smart device. The current FDA Emergency Use Authorization allows the Cue COVID-19 test to be used anywhere under the supervision of qualified medical personnel. The company is intending to seek additional FDA authorizations for use of the COVID-19 test in settings such as the workplace, schools, and at home.
Cue – whose investors also include successful tech entrepreneurs and diagnostics experts – was founded by Khattak and Clint Sever in 2010, following the H1N1 swine flu epidemic.
Cue Health’s new Vista facility will be used for the production of Cue COVID-19 Test Cartridges.
Testing for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is the first authorized use of the Cue Health Monitoring System, but the platform is also being studied and adapted as an aid in the diagnosis of other diseases and conditions. For example, Cue has partnered with the Biomedical Advance Research Development Authority (BARDA), a division of HHS since 2018, to develop the Cue Influenza Test. Cue has already started analytical and clinical validation for the Influenza Test Cartridge.Cue also anticipates the introduction of a series of infectious disease tests and products for other test categories in the coming years.
“The City of Vista continues to bolster the regional economy by attracting leading-edge companies such as Cue Health,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, who represents the county’s 49th District, which includes Vista. “The good paying jobs and rapid COVID-19 tests that Cue Health generates will boost the quality of life in the region, and I am excited to welcome them to our community.”
Cue is one of severalbiotechs and life-savinghealthcare technology companies that have taken up residence in Vista, also a growing and attractive hot spot forsoftware firms,manufacturing,film and entertainment, andbreweries. Vista is also home to a vibrant historicdowntown, which classifies as anOpportunity Zone.
“The City of Vista is an appealing place to expand our organization and we look forward to watching Vista develop as a biotech and life sciences hub,” said Elizabeth Swanson, Director of Human Resources at Cue. “With Vista having several educational institutions nearby and a business park with over 900 companies, we’re confident this sector will continue to grow, adding to the already noted appeal of residential living in the area. Over the next five years, we envision being a thriving company within the community, offering growth and creating new jobs while strengthening the economy.”
“We are an extremely collaborative and innovative team,” Swanson said. “Everyone is passionate about our product and mission, we encourage each other and support one another. It has been amazing to witness tight deadlines being met and the successful outcome of important initiatives. We have a lot of growth opportunities and foster learning and creativity.”
Cue plans to hire up to an additional 500 employees at its 197,000 square-foot Vista facility.
Between Cue and Amazon, about 1,000 new jobs have been created in Vista this year, according to Mayor Judy Ritter.
“We have been developing a new economic development strategy that allows us to peek around the corner of the future to see which businesses and industries will be expanding,” Ritter said. “One of those industries we see as a growth opportunity is medical devices. The recent success of bringing Cue Health to Vista is a confirmation of where the future is moving and how companies like this can bring numerous well paying jobs that can be beneficial to the city, our residents, and nearby businesses.”