Story at a glance

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed the state has made a deal with PerkinElmer, a medical diagnostics company.
  • It will give the state access to quicker test turnaround, costing at most $1.4 billion.

California has inked a deal with Massachusetts-based diagnostics company PerkinElmer worth about $1.4 million to provide cheaper coronavirus tests that will allow the state to eventually more than double its overall testing capacity to about 250,000 people per day.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) discussed the contract during a press briefing Wednesday, The Associated Press reports. The governor confirmed that California currently averages around 100,000 tests daily, and the state absorbs the $100 cost per test. Results tend to take about five to seven business days to come back. 

With the new partnership, tests will not only cost significantly less at around $31 per test, but results will come back within two days.


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“Supply chains across the country have slowed as demand for COVID-19 tests has increased, and flu season will only exacerbate the problem,” Newsom said. “So we are building our own laboratory capabilities right here on California soil with a stable supply chain to fight the disease, lower the prices of testing for everyone and protect Californians most at risk from COVID-19.”

The contract with PerkinElmer — a company whose relationship with California dates back to the 1990s — will initially cost the state $100 million, with a goal to begin processing “tens of thousands” of coronavirus tests by November and hit full capacity in March.

PerkinElmer will reportedly use polymerase chain reaction diagnostic tests, but the contract allows the company to switch to newer technologies that may come along. 

Early detection and identification is crucial to controlling the virus spread. Since much of the spread occurs asymptomatically, testing is vital for quelling the outbreak and virus transmission. 

In one paper published by researchers in Singapore and China in June, scientists wrote that “early and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19 is thus critical to curbing its spread and improving health outcomes,” especially without proven treatments or a vaccine.

Obtaining test results in a timely manner has made it difficult for people to know when to quarantine themselves. In Virginia, for example, a backlog of confirmed infections resulted in an overnight spike in new cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging everyone who may have been exposed to the coronavirus to quarantine at this time. 


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Published on Aug 26, 2020