100,000 coronavirus tests expected at Denver airport in the coming days

A Colorado company and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Friday that 100,000 coronavirus tests could arrive at Denver International Airport in the coming days, but it’s not yet known how many of those sought-after tests will remain in Colorado.

Aytu Bioscience, based in Englewood, has partnered with a Hong Kong company to produce coronavirus test kits that provide results in 10 minutes or less. Last week, Aytu ordered 100,000 of the tests to be produced and they are expected to be shipped this weekend, according to Josh Disbrow, the company’s CEO.

“We will make them available for sale. We are getting, as you might expect, significant interest from all over the country. All over the world, really,” Disbrow said Friday. “But we’ve had correspondence with the governor’s office and spoken with Senator Gardner. There’s some interest, obviously, in keeping as many in the state as we can.”

Gardner, a Yuma Republican, said in an interview that he was working with the company and state to get the 100,000 tests to DIA as soon as Saturday. Disbrow said the tests could arrive early next week.

Where they go from there has not been determined. Gov. Jared Polis has repeatedly called for more extensive testing in Colorado, where about 3,700 tests have been administered, according to state figures. The governor says he has conveyed frustration over a lack of testing directly to Vice President Mike Pence.

Gardner said of the federal response: “We’ve got to continue to do better and better every single day.”

Concerns about the coronavirus have figured prominently in recent tele-town halls with Coloradans, the senator told The Denver Post.

“You can hear it in the voices of people. Concerns from an elderly woman who couldn’t find disinfectants at the stores she was going to. Concerns from a restaurant owner near Pueblo about (whether) she was going to stay in business.”

When informed by a reporter Wednesday that a large number of tests could be arriving at DIA soon, Polis appeared unaware but happy to hear the news.

Before the tests can be distributed to eager hospitals, private institutions and government agencies next week, they will need to clear a crucial Food and Drug Administration screening at DIA.

“Plan A is to have it go through without any problems,” Disbrow said. “Plan B would be to call Senator Gardner and say, ‘Let’s make sure this doesn’t get held up’ because this is not your normal, everyday medical product, which can sometimes take days or weeks to clear. We’ve got his commitment that he will call whoever he needs to call.”

The FDA has been informed of the shipment’s importance and been given its registration number to speed up the screening process, according to Disbrow.

The incoming tests use a drop of blood from a finger prick, allowing for faster results than the nasal swabs more commonly used. A second test would be recommended for those who test positive, Disbrow said.

“We’re excited to be able to help out. I’m hoping we’re just days away from having this here and available and ready to go,” he said.