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CEO: We need to enter the next phase of COVID-19 'surveillance'

·Senior Reporter
·2 min read
In this article:
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Diagnostics manufacturers like Qiagen (QGEN) are scrambling to develop tests for monkeypox as the global outbreak continues to concern public health officials.

Qiagen CEO Thierry Bernard told Yahoo Finance in an interview Monday that the company has been watching the outbreak's trajectory as it helps the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) create a new test.

"To really see if there will be a massive acceleration of cases, will be around the week of June 20," Bernard said, adding that cases appear to be increasing three-fold week over week.

Still, cases are not yet at a level that would lead to the type of testing needed for COVID. "We are not at the level yet where we can say it's going to be a pandemic," Bernard said.

Still, the company, like others, is working on a new PCR test — known as the gold standard for testing — to detect monkeypox for labs.

HILDEN, GERMANY - MARCH 11: An employee of German biotech company Qiagen demonstrates the use of the Qiagen QIAstat-Dx testing device for infectious diseases at the Qiagen plant on March 11, 2020 in Hilden, Germany. Qiagen has modified the device for testing fluid samples for coronavirus infection and Qiagen is seeking to deliver it to hospitals, clinics and doctors across Europe. Germany has registered approximately 1,200 cases of coronavirus infection and recently reported its first two deaths. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
HILDEN, GERMANY - MARCH 11: An employee of German biotech company Qiagen demonstrates the use of the Qiagen QIAstat-Dx testing device for infectious diseases at the Qiagen plant on March 11, 2020 in Hilden, Germany. Qiagen has modified the device for testing fluid samples for coronavirus infection and Qiagen is seeking to deliver it to hospitals, clinics and doctors across Europe. Germany has registered approximately 1,200 cases of coronavirus infection and recently reported its first two deaths. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)

In addition, Qiagen is currently providing the CDC with DNA components to help develop a test for the virus that can be decentralized and used at all local level public health offices and clinics, Bernard said.

Covid remains in focus

Qiagen is also at the center of the country's expansion of COVID-19 surveillance, as more at-home testing is leaving the CDC and other federal officials without a central database of real-time spread.

"COVID has not disappeared," Bernard said.

The CDC recently approved Qiagen's wastewater surveillance testing in order to help keep watch of which parts of the country are currently experiencing surges. It's part of what Bernard calls the next generation of testing for the pandemic.

PCR tests have gotten popular as a result of the coronavirus spread, but Qiagen is relying on digital PCR for wastewater surveillance.

"More than 70% of U.S. states now have at least one publicly- or privately-owned laboratory that can monitor wastewater with QIAcuity, a system that has set new standards by delivering results in two hours," the company said in a recent statement.

Bernard said it is not a new technology— it's been used to track outbreaks of polio, for example, but it's helpful for the current pandemic, Bernard said.

"Instead of constantly bothering the population with extremely restrictive measures, we need to go into what we call 'surveillance,'" he said.

Follow Anjalee on Twitter @AnjKhem

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