LabCorp CEO Adam Schechter on its test to detect coronavirus exposure


LabCorp is widening the availability of its blood test designed to detect whether someone has been exposed to the new coronavirus, CEO Adam Schechter told CNBC on Wednesday.

The so-called serology tests are “for patients that don’t have symptoms, that do not currently have Covid-19 but believe they’ve had it in the past,” Schechter said on “Squawk Box.

LabCorp’s service centers will begin processing the tests on Monday.

Schechter said that people will be able to access the blood tests through their physicians and urgent care clinics as well as through telemedicine services. 

“They’ll be able to put the orders in through our service centers that we have across the United States, and then people will be able to go to our service centers to have their blood taken,” Schecter explained. “We send it to our labs and we get them the results in one to two days.” 

Schechter said that LabCorp has validated the test and believes it is “extremely accurate” in detecting whether someone has antibodies for Covid-19. However, he stressed it’s too early to determine the exact benefits of having the antibodies.

“We do know that if somebody’s had the virus, and they show that they have the antibodies, that our test can certainly detect those antibodies,” he said. “What we don’t know is a year from now whether those antibodies will still be as meaningful as they are today.” 

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Wednesday that expectations around serology tests should be tempered. 

“They shouldn’t be using these tests to make individual decisions for individual patients,” Gottlieb said on “Squawk Box.” “They’re good for population-level studies and they’re good maybe in certain professions where there’s a very high exposure to coronavirus, but for the general population an antibody test probably isn’t that helpful.”

Gottlieb, a CNBC contributor and a member of the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina, added that so far antibody tests have had a “very high false positive rate.” 

The World Health Organization warned last week that the presence of antibodies does not necessarily mean someone is now immune to Covid-19. 

“Right now, we have no evidence that the use of a serological test can show that an individual is immune or protected from reinfection,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases.

LabCorp was granted FDA approval this week for its at-home test for Covid-19, which allows people to collect a sample for themselves via a nasal swab and send it to a lab.The diagnostic test to will first be available to health-care workers and first responders who receive a recommendation by a health-care provider. 

Shares of LabCorp were up more than 5% on Wednesday to $156 each.


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