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July 23, 2020

Quest Diagnostics receives FDA authorization to batch-test COVID-19 specimens

Photo | Grant Welker Quest Diagnostics' lab in Marlborough has handled a bulk of the state's coronavirus tests.

Marlborough medical firm Quest Diagnostics has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use specimen pooling during its diagnostic test for COVID-19.

Quest is the first company to receive authorization for the technique testing specimens in batches, only testing them individually if the results come back positive for the virus, according to a release put out by the company. The technique is expected to be used in the company’s Marlborough facility as well as at its Chantilly, Va. laboratory.

"As COVID-19 continues to spread around the country, access to timely, quality laboratory testing is critical to patients and an effective public health response," Steve Rusckowski, chairman, CEO and president of Quest Diagnostics, said in a release. "Pooled specimen testing is a proven technique that will help us to optimize testing capacity at this critical time for our country.”

Pooling is used routinely in blood banking to screen donated blood for a variety of viruses, among other applications, according to the company.

The announcement comes as rising demand for COVID-19 tests have caused long delays in test results.

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