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Co-Diagnostics producing 3M tests a week to detect COVID-19

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Back in April, Co-Diagnostics received FDA emergency use authorization for the development of molecular diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Now, Co-Diagnostics CEO Dwight Egan says the company is producing "3 million tests a week." Egan joins Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman to discuss.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Of course, the main issue here still remains that testing lags behind where a lot of health experts say would need to be to safely reopen the economy here in the US. When you look at the testing front, not a lot has been made in terms of progress. It has improved, but a lot of critics are saying that not enough has been done.

And for more on that, I want to bring on the CEO of a testing company that received FDA authorization back in April for COVID-19 testing. And, of course, being COVID-- sorry, Co-Diagnostics, and the CEO Dwight Egan joins us back on "PM" right now. Mr. Egan, it's good to see you again.

When we look at your guys' testing capabilities, you guys have boasted that you can do about 1 to 1.5 million tests a week. So what are you seeing in where testing needs to be right now? Have a lot of the issues been fixed? What's your take on that?

DWIGHT EGAN: Well, of course this whole issue of getting our country back to work and our students back to school focuses on how much testing we can really bring to bear, and that in connection with tracing. And indeed we have amped up our ability to produce tests beyond what we had previously talked about, Zack, to where we now can produce in the neighborhood of 3 million tests a week in our facilities here and with the help of Promega in Madison, Wisconsin.

So, you know, we're shipping to nearly 50 states around the world-- 50 countries, excuse me, and nearly-- you know, clearly more than a dozen states, now approaching about 20 different states. Initiatives like Test Utah that really set out to double the testing in Utah have been very successful. Has now been duplicated in states like Nebraska and Iowa and Georgia.

And, you know, these people aren't out to flatten the curve. They're out to crush the curve. And when you look at an environment where you have, like, 76 million students that need to get back to school in the fall and 157 million workers that need to be in the workplace, being able to do mass-scale testing is really the order of the day, and that's exactly what our particular product is well suited for is vast quantities of testing.

ZACK GUZMAN: No, I mean, it's surprising to hear that you guys are now capable of that 3 million number a week because when you look at the actual numbers according the COVID Tracking Project, the US has conducted a little over 7 million coronavirus tests. So what is really the holdup between the amount that you guys are able to produce and the amount that we've seen actually conducted here in the US? What's the gap there?

DWIGHT EGAN: Well, I think that, you know, a lot of the tests that we have produced have been bound for overseas. So we have a significant number of shipments that have been done in that regard.

We received a CE mark-- we were the first US-based company to receive a CE mark for our COVID-19 tests. And then we received our FDA emergency-use approval on the 3rd of April. So initially our focus was in sending tests overseas, and then it amped up significantly in the US, particularly after we received FDA approval.

But it's the kind of thing where, you know, the testing involves the reagents and things that we supply, but it also involves swabs and other elements-- and PCR machines and things that need to be in place in order to conduct the tests. And I think the governors and the local communities are doing a pretty good job now at amping that up. We're certainly seeing that in the context of our top product and where we're shipping it and how aggressive they're being in the testing.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, because that's-- your guys' Logix Smart COVID-19 test is the one that we'll be focusing on here because, as you said, you know, we've heard from the swabs. Originally there were those issues with not having enough swabs. President Trump had talked about boosting production on that front, and there was the issue about reagents needed for the tests.

But your guys' test, you boast that it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get results on that front and that they are quite accurate in reading out these things. So, I mean, if that's the case, is that-- have you seen at least those issues in terms of the supply issues tied to the tests improve over time and now should be in the era of being able to do these without issue?

DWIGHT EGAN: I think so. Generally speaking, Zack, the places that we are supplying are having a pretty good experience in being able to get a hold of what they need.

And let me also add that, you know, there's some very unique products that are coming online. For instance, OralDNA labs up in Minnesota have developed a product where you swish and gargle with just a very light nose swab, which makes it so this is a much easier thing to do in dental offices and pediatricians' offices and things around the country as we look to things like getting 76 million students back to school.

And, you know, if you look at having 186,000 dental offices in the United States that could quickly administer those types of tests-- these are now getting down to the point, Zack, where they're self-administered. And this particular test that uses our technology for the actual testing component enable people to go into their doctor's office, into a dental office-- I think eventually we'll actually see very heavy usage at businesses, whether you have 30 employees or 30,000 employees, the ability to bring people into the workspace and give essentially a saliva-based test with little or no swab is going to be a very good solution compared to the sort of nasopharyngeal, you know, sticking what seems, to many people, like a coat hanger up into their nasal cavity to the back of their throat.

So testing is getting-- it's getting more accessible, and it's getting-- if we use the entire infrastructure of the United States health-care system-- that is dental offices and doctors' offices and things-- we can crack this, and we must. We have to have this ready to go by the fall, or we're going to have a problem with our schools.

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, you know, it's not just the US too. I mean, we were looking back-- before the show, we were talking and we were looking back to when we first talked back in January, and you think about when we were focused on this being a China problem. And now it's not even just a China-US problem. It's a global pandemic we're dealing with here. But your guys' stock has clearly been reflecting that when you look at the performance, up about 350% since the end of February.

And I know you guys are working on expanding testing now into Mexico, getting approval there from the equivalent of the CDC here in the US. So when you look at this as a company who's navigated this and has seen this become a global issue and you guys are on the front lines providing testing, how big of an impact for your company is this, and how much are you expecting to see your numbers grow here just because of the sheer size of this problem?

DWIGHT EGAN: Zack, this has totally changed the trajectory of Co-Diagnostics, and we're really thrilled to be a material part of the solution that's going on worldwide. I think we're very much holding our own in terms of market share.

Part of that is because not only do we have a great test, you know, in terms of its sensitivity and specificity, which has recently been validated in numerous different studies, both in the United States and around the world, but we also, in addition to having a great test, we're priced very compassionately. So, you know, when you're talking about amping up tests the way it's being talked about worldwide, having a price point that is significantly less than most providers also helps us get market share.

ZACK GUZMAN: All right, there you go with the latest from Co-Diagnostics CEO Dwight Egan rejoining us. Appreciate you coming back to chat, sir, and good luck with everything.

DWIGHT EGAN: Thank you.