Millions given to Pa. companies for COVID-19 treatments

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The state is giving out millions of dollars. Several companies will use it to further their work on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

The $10 million in grants is going to 23 different entities in Pennsylvania, through the COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and therapies program. Three of the awardees are here in the Midstate.

Aptagen in York County is getting $320,000 to help with a treatment after someone’s contracted COVID-19 that would prevent the virus from entering cells, mitigating the infection. It’s also working on something else.

“The passport strip test, it’s sort of like a pregnancy test to identify if someone has a viral titer against SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19,” said Tom Caltagirone, President and CEO of Aptagen, LLC.

This is a matching grant, and the money will help the company hire more scientists and get more equipment.

“It’s a scientific instrument that’s a high-throughput system that allows us to test more samples,” said Caltagirone.

$6.8 million was awarded to 12 vaccine projects, nearly $1.2 million is being given to five therapy projects, about $1.6 million was awarded to five treatment projects, and $430,000 is going to a separate COVID-19 project. Aptagen says it expects its diagnostic test to be available by the end of the year and the treatment sometime after that.

“These synthetic antibodies called aptamers are much more specific than antibodies, the traditional antibody that everyone is using in the scientific community, so you’re less likely to end up with false negative results,” said Caltagirone.

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