LabCorp, Quest broaden availability of COVID-19 tests nationwide

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LabCorp says it has 200,000 self-collection kits available for the general public, while Quest said it would work with Ortho Clinical Diagnostics to expand antibody testing to more than 20 of its U.S. laboratories. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The U.S. clinical testing giants Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are broadening the availability of their COVID-19 diagnostic tests, opening up their use nationwide.

Initially, LabCorp’s at-home test collection kit, which allows people to ship their own nasal swab samples to the lab to be checked for an active infection, was first made available to healthcare workers and first responders through the company’s online platform, after being authorized by the FDA last month.

Now, LabCorp says it has 200,000 collection kits available for the general public—specifically, those who qualify based on a health screening questionnaire—and plans to expand its testing capacity as needed. The company also offers an antibody blood test through its service center network, as well as its specimen collection locations at participating Walgreens pharmacies.

RELATED: Quest, LabCorp launch nationwide COVID-19 antibody testing in pharmacies and online

Meanwhile, Quest said it would work with the test developer Ortho Clinical Diagnostics to expand COVID-19 antibody testing to more than 20 of its U.S. laboratories.

Quest will use Ortho's Vitros IgG antibody test, one of two from the company that received FDA authorization in April, available online or through a healthcare provider.

RELATED: Ortho, Eurofins lay out plans for high-throughput COVID-19 antibody blood testing

Different types of antibodies are produced at higher levels in the days following an infection, making them easier to detect at different times. The IgG test focuses on antibodies that appear in the bloodstream in the infection’s later phases and stay at elevated levels after a person has recovered. 

Ortho’s second, separate serology test detects all COVID-19 antibodies—including IgM, which appears earlier during the acute stages of the coronavirus infection—and is used to help monitor progression.

Ortho said it plans to manufacture several million IgG antibody tests per month for Quest and other laboratories. It has previously been shipping tests to hotspot areas as it ramps up production.