Roche says military planes load up COVID-19 test gear as demand soars

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche's ROG.S testing head said on Thursday that orders for equipment to process COVID-19 tests have soared to levels it would normally see over four to five years, as some governments dispatch military aircraft to pick up gear.

Diagnostics head Thomas Schinecker, speaking to reporters after Roche announced a drop in second-quarter sales, also said the company aims to introduce new antibody tests later this year as it broadens its offering ahead of a potential vaccine.

“The orders we’ve gotten is as high as what we would normally sell in four to five years,” Schinecker said. “We’re ramping up on the system side, as well. We even had governments that flew in with military planes to pick up instruments, because they were in such need. We definitely see that opportunity.”

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields