Merck said its Carrigtwohill facility is in the final stages of a €36m expansion in Cork to meet global demand for its lateral flow membrane, which has significantly increased since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Merck said it also has plans for further expansion in Cork in the future and the additional investments will result in about 50 new jobs being created over the coming years.

The Carrigtwohill facility is the global "Membrane Centre of Excellence" for Merck and produces millions of feet of all types of membrane on an annual basis.

The lateral flow membrane is the key component in rapid diagnostic antigen tests, typically used in pregnancy tests and tests for infectious diseases like dengue fever, ebola and malaria.

The membrane is also a key component in the rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 and customer demand for this type of membrane has significantly increased since the onset of the pandemic.

Martin McAuliffe, Managing Director and Head of Cork Operations at Merck in Carrigtwohill said, that the new K2 expansion will enable its Cork site to more than double capacity of its lateral flow membrane, which is a key component in Covid-19 rapid diagnostic kits.

"Furthermore, there will be an additional multi-million euro investment in our Biotools department over the next five years. The Biotools department makes filtration and medical devices for the pharma industry, some of which are used in vaccine production," Mr McAuliffe said.

Merck is involved in over 50 vaccine candidates, more than 35 diagnostic solutions and over 20 therapeutic solutions which use the latest in cutting edge technology.