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Centene, Quest Diagnostics Partner on Coronavirus Test Kit Distribution

NEW YORK — Healthcare company Centene said on Wednesday that it has signed an agreement to help distribute Quest Diagnostics SARS-CoV-2 test kits in the US.

According to St. Louis-based Centene, it will facilitate the distribution of 25,000 of Quest's rRT-PCR-based SARS-CoV-2 test kits each week to Federally Qualified Health Centers in 10 US states or districts, beginning on May 4. Centene said it will also provide oversight and training to ensure the test kits are received and processed properly.

Quest will perform the tests at its network laboratories.

Additional terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Last month, Secaucus, New Jersey-based Quest received Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for its SARS-CoV-2 rRT PCR test to detect patients who have a COVID-19 infection. 

The firm also markets a COVID-19 serology test to detect antibodies to the disease, and yesterday announced that it had launched a consumer-initiated COVID-19 antibody testing initiative, enabling individuals to order the test online directly from the company without a visit to a physician. Quest uses tests from Abbott Laboratories and PerkinElmer's Euroimmun business for coronavirus serology testing, but company officials have said the firm also is exploring other platforms.

Quest Diagnostics President, CEO, and Chairman Steve Rusckowski said on a conference call last week that the firm anticipates having a capacity of over 200,000 serology tests per day by the middle of May, while it is able to run more 50,000 molecular tests for COVID-19 per day.