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Quest Diagnostics (DGX) Expands COVID-19 Test Eligibility

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As part of its continual process of development related COVID-19 testing services, Quest Diagnostics (DGX - Free Report) recently announced that it has expanded eligibility for $0 out-of-pocket COVID-19 testing through QuestDirect.  This program is effective from May 11.

QuestDirect is the company's online consumer-initiated test platform.

More About  the Plan

Per this plan, adults can ask for access to the company's $0 out-of-pocket COVID-19 test option for themselves as well as for 4 years or older children through QuestDirect.  The expanded eligibility includes adults and minors irrespective of symptoms or suspected exposure. This is consistent with updated government guidance on insurance coverage for COVID-19 testing.

As part of this plan, following the online form fill up, if the physicians find the individual eligible, they may then schedule an appointment for an observed self-collection at one of 500 Walmart (WMT - Free Report) Neighborhood Market locations and other sites.

However, the $0 out-of-pocket COVID-19 test option through QuestDirect is not available for asymptomatic individuals without known or suspected exposure for public health surveillance or employment purposes. Further, QuestDirect is not available in Alaska, Arizona and Hawaii.

This $0 out-of-pocket option applies to molecular laboratory (PCR/NAAT) as well as rapid antigen testing. Currently, molecular testing comprises majority of the company’s COVID-19 testing. However, the company has also begun to offer rapid antigen tests at approximately 30 patient service centers in New York. It also has plans to extend the capability to other states over time.

DGX's COVID-19 Testing Updates

In the just-reported first quarter of 2021, despite declining demand for Quest Diagnostics’ COVID-19 testing services, the company performed an average of 101,000 COVID-19 molecular tests per day. Overall, in the first quarter, approximately 9.1 million molecular tests and nearly 900,000 serology tests were performed, contributing nearly 21% to volume growth.

According to the company, it will continue to realize demand for coronavirus testing going forward on the fact that this will help control the spread of the virus in addition to reducing hospitalization and saving lives. Further, continued testing will be the key to help the economy to reopen as more Americans become vaccinated.

As per the company’s latest release, Quest Diagnostics currently has capacity to provide 300,000 COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests per day from approximately two dozen laboratories across the United States. Since the first test launch in early March 2020, the company has performed more than 40 million COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests.

Peer Position in COVID Testing

In terms of COVID-19 developments, Quest Diagnostics directly competes with LabCorp (LH - Free Report) , the first commercial lab to launch PCR testing on Mar 5, 2020, just after the FDA liberalized the rules around Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for testing. Through 2020, the company developed six COVID-19 tests  that received EUA and performed approximately 35 million tests in 2020. It has helped to bring multiple treatments and vaccines to market in record time. The company is also the first to offer an at-home PCR collection kit with or without a prescription through Pixel by LabCorp.

We also note that Abbott (ABT - Free Report) too has developed and launched several COVID-19 tests across its testing platform for both laboratory and rapid point-of-care settings. In the last-reported first quarter, the company’s, BinaxNOW received EUA for over-the-counter nonprescription self-use for people with or without symptoms. Abbott begun shipping test kits to major retailers in April.

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