LabCorp, Quest stocks down amid coronavirus testing rollout

'A lot rides on them now,' former FDA commissioner says

The two main commercial laboratories producing novel coronavirus tests in the U.S., LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, have seen their stocks plunge with the rest of the market in the last month despite an increase in demand.

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Vice President Mike Pence said LabCorp and Quest are working closely with the Trump administration to combat the COVID-19 outbreak by sending kits across the country in a Thursday interview with "FOX & Friends."

"That's going to be the way that in the days ahead we're going to have broad-based testing available all across the country," Pence said.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
LHLABORATORY CORP OF AMERICA183.40+0.34+0.19%
DGXQUEST DIAG113.87+1.28+1.14%

"A lot rides on them now," former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said of LabCorp and Quest in a series of tweets, adding that public health labs are not "richly funded" and are being "maxed out."

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"Only these big national chains have throughput, scale, and ordering systems to fill the void that was created," Gottlieb tweeted. "We look to them now. We need them."

This undated photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. (CDC via AP)

"We must scale their ability to sharply expand screening," he continued. "That means getting diagnostic kits approved that the companies can run on their automated platforms to dramatically scale testing."

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How the country deploys COVID-19 tests across all 50 states will determine one of two different outcomes for the country amid the virus outbreak: it could either eliminate the virus completely through proactive measures like those taken by South Korea, or the country could be facing an emergency-level situation like Italy, Gottlieb said.

The U.S. is expecting thousands more COVID-19 cases, which topped 1,000 Wednesday, Pence said.

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