(CHICO, CALIFORNIA) — It’s said that making beer is both an art and a science. California-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is providing the latter, using its high-tech gear to to increase the availability of local COVID-19 testing.
Sierra Nevada vice president Ken Grossman tells ABC Audio that the beer company’s cutting-edge PCR machines — a DNA amplifier normally used to ensure product purity — are being pressed into service to create a viral transport medium. This chemical mixture preserves clinical samples, like those found in nose and mouth swabs used to test for the virus, while the samples are transported to a lab for analysis.
Grossman says they got involved when the CEO of the brewery’s local hospital “reached out to us with some challenges about sourcing supplies, both the protective gear and some of the PCR testing equipment.”
Sierra Nevada’s used PCR technology for over a decade, says Grossman. “We look for wild yeast and bacteria and the PCR amplifies the RNA and DNA is how it works. So it gives us a rapid ability to detect if there is any contamination of our beer.”
Or in a swab. He says the hospital was “having trouble sourcing the media that used to store the swabs in before it goes into the PCR test. Talked to our lab staff and our head of quality control said, ‘We do this all the time. This is no problem for us.’ And so we went to work finding the raw materials and batching up the medium. We’ve so far produced about a thousand vials and we’re looking and producing more for some other interested parties.”
But if you’re a fan of Sierra Nevada beer, worry not, Grossman says: “They’re busy checking the beer as well.”
We’ll drink to that.
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