U.S. to Expand Monkeypox Testing at Commercial Labs as Outbreak Grows
As monkeypox cases rise nationwide, the Biden administration is authorizing commercial labs to conduct monkeypox tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent test kits to five commercial laboratory companies this week, from which health providers can order tests directly by early July. The companies include Aegis Sciences, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, and Sonic Healthcare. Officials estimate the testing expansion will allow the United States to conduct tens of thousands of tests per week instead of using a national network of public labs that can conduct roughly 8,000 tests a week. According to a senior Biden administration official, about 10 tests were being conducted per day nationwide in early June, rising to 60 tests per day last week. Health care providers currently must send a swab from a rash to a public lab that can identify whether the patient is infected by an orthopox virus. A positive result is presumed to be monkeypox because no other orthopox viruses are known to be circulating in the United States. CDC then conducts confirmatory testing. The existing test was developed by the CDC and cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, but the CDC had to revise its clearances for use by the commercial labs. The five labs also had to sign agreements and make sure personnel were vaccinated against monkeypox and used adequate personal protective equipment, a senior public health official said.
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