While the food and hospitality industry was forced to go dormant during the pandemic, Madison’s many biotech and health companies went into overdrive in response to the spread of the coronavirus.
Some businesses, including Fitchburg-based Promega Corp. and the Madison facility of pharmaceuticals company Catalent Biologics, immediately began manufacturing products to help with testing, treatments and eventual vaccinations for the new disease. Products made in these facilities have been used around the world.
“We’ve taken the approach of listening and learning from our customers, the science community and our employees so we can understand what’s coming next and do our best to prepare and respond to it,” Promega’s vice president of corporate affairs Penny Patterson said.
Exact Sciences, based in Madison, works in cancer diagnostics, but when COVID-19 took hold in the U.S., the company began using its labs to also process tests for the virus. In 2020, the company tested more than 2 million samples and ran on-site tests for its employees as well.
“This allowed our laboratory operations to continue, largely uninterrupted by the virus,” spokesman Scott Larrivee said. “Keeping staff healthy meant patients and providers got timely, needed cancer test results, and additional lab capacity could be devoted to the COVID-19 testing effort.”
Epic Systems Corp., based in Verona, also had a hand in various aspects of the COVID-19 response. The company created and installed software for testing sites, used artificial intelligence to help assess the risk of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and helped health care providers begin using telehealth programs to see patients and more.