- Labcorp will begin testing for monkeypox using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s polymerase chain reaction orthopoxvirus test. It can detect all non-smallpox orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox and cowpox.
- The company, which claims it will be the first national laboratory to offer the test, will initially perform all monkeypox testing at its main North Carolina site and then expand if needed.
- Labcorp’s move comes weeks after it and four other major U.S. commercial laboratories, including its main rival, Quest Diagnostics, agreed to receive tests from the CDC.
The CDC is acting to increase testing capacity as confirmed monkeypox cases rise to 700 in the U.S. as of July 7, according to agency data. Outbreaks of 136 cases in California and 131 cases in New York put those states at the center of the spread, but smaller numbers of infections have been detected in states across the country. That’s a 17-fold increase from June 8, when there were 40 confirmed cases.
Late last month, the CDC began sending tests to Labcorp and other labs as part of a push to scale up U.S. testing capacity. Over time, Labcorp expects to grow its capacity to 10,000 tests per week, a total that it said will double the current capacity of the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network. Labcorp has yet to say how much capacity it will have when it begins offering testing from a single lab.
The North Carolina lab will accept specimens from customers across the U.S., as well as overflow from public laboratories. To get tested, people with suspected infections need to go through their healthcare provider, who will be able to order the orthopoxvirus test as they do other Labcorp services. Labcorp expects to increase testing by leveraging relationships with clinics, hospitals and healthcare providers.
While Labcorp is using the CDC test, commercial developers are also responding to the threat. In May, Roche revealed its development of three LightMix Modular Virus kits for detecting the monkeypox virus. Roche made the test kits available for research use in countries around the world.
The CDC said anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their doctor about getting tested, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox.