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Drexel company's technology helping in coronavirus fight

Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 19:15:05-05

DREXEL, Mo. — A microbiology tech company in Drexel, Missouri, is using its technology to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

InnovaPrep CEO David Alburty founded the company, which specializes in efficient detection of viruses, in 2009.

"We started the company to help make the world a better and safer place for people and animals and we're doing that, so that's very satisfying," Alburty said.

The company developed several products to help public agencies monitor for viruses in liquids and the air.

As COVID-19 has spread around the world, the company's testing kits have seen record-breaking sales.

"The last couple of months have been pretty wild because we have worldwide distribution and we started getting more and more orders from our Chinese distributors," Alburty said.

Alburty said China and South Korea have quickly become his biggest customers.

"Essentially we're selling everything we make as fast as we can make it," Alburty said.

The technology takes samples for the air, concentrates them, filters them and sends them through a genetic testing device.

Alburty said the technology was created with efficiency in mind. Results are transmitted to a smart phone within an hour or two, compared with several days in other tests.

As the coronavirus spreads, the company is gearing up to increase production by 10 times.

"It started in January when it was really hitting hard, and it has continued until now and is starting to pick up with our distributors in other places in the world, Europe especially now," Alburty said.

Alburty said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Defense have purchased some of the company's other tech. He reached out to both agencies, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, to find out if they will use the coronavirus test kits, but he said he has not heard back.

Alburty said Drexel, a small town with fewer than 1,000 people, is the perfect place for his company.

"We're here because we've got great workers here, we can get a lot of space here because we make stuff so we need to do our own manufacturing," Alburty said.

Local Napa Auto Shop owner Ted Kasper said locals are glad to have the company as part of the town.

"It keeps Main Street a little more alive," Kasper said. "They employ a lot of people, and they just really fit right in here."

Alburty hopes public health agencies as well as other companies around the world will see the benefits his technology has.

"Hopefully this will be over soon this year and will provide an emphasis that public agencies and private companies can get involved and begin to gear up to be ready for not only this time, but for next time, because it's inevitable," Alburty said.