Quest Diagnostics starts antibody testing for coronavirus

(Reuters) – Quest Diagnostics Inc said on Tuesday it has started testing using blood samples to detect COVID-19 antibodies and expects to ramp up capacity over the coming weeks as public health experts push for wider testing in the United States. 

Quest said it was using tests made by Abbott Laboratories and PerkinElmer Inc’s Euroimmun. Both tests use blood serum specimens to detect the presence of immunoglobulin class G (IgG) antibodies. IgG antibody response typically develops by 14 days after symptoms set in. 

Antibody tests are considered a potential game changer in the battle to contain infections and offers the chance to get the economy back on track by identifying people who may have immunity to the virus and could return to their jobs. 

The company, which is due to report its quarterly earnings on Wednesday, said it expects to scale up testing to about 150,000 tests a day by early-May from nearly 70,000 tests per day by the end of this week. 

“As the FDA has indicated, antibody testing has the potential to help healthcare professionals identify people who have been exposed to COVID-19 and who have developed an immune response,” said Chief Medical Officer Jay G. Wohlgemuth. 

Quest said it will report results within one to two days after collecting the specimen.

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