Emerging Markets

The Money to Be Made on New SARS-CoV-2 $erology Test Products

SARS-CoV-2 serology antibody testing—reliably indicating whether persons with SARS-CoV-2 have COVID-19 or had COVID-19 and are thus presumably immune from getting it again—has the potential to provide the essential information scientists and policy makers need to re-open, monitor and secure the safety of the post-pandemic world. Such information can be used for:

  • Measuring the extent of the pandemic among populations, including via results of mass screening to assess “herd immunity,” i.e, whether a sufficient portion of the population is immune;
  • Determining whether individuals can be safely allowed to return to work and society; and
  • Developing COVID-19 vaccines and treatment, e.g., by identifying which people can donate blood for treatment of others.

The Serology Testing Goldmine

Naturally, test makers that can furnish reliable serology testing products stand to make boatloads of money. In fact, several already are. A new report from financial analysis firm Cowen offers a glimpse into the dollars to be made and being made in the short term, even at the current low reimbursement rates.

The Macroeconomic Perspective

50 million: That’s the total number of COVID-19 tests of all types Cowen expects just the largest lab companies to produce per month by the end of June. Of these, 20 million would be serology tests. And that’s just for clinical settings. Total tests would balloon if you add serology tests used for “broad employer screening.”

$65 million: That’s the rough US market size based on tests priced between $5 and $25 and utilization by the roughly 8.7 million people the US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists as being employed as healthcare practitioners, not counting repeat testing over time. When you account the population of more than 70 million students, this becomes a roughly $500 million market. And it’s $1.2 billion when you consider employer screening and define the market as the total US workforce of nearly 160 million.

The Microeconomic Perspective

$300 million: That’s what Abbott Laboratories is expecting to add to quarterly gross revenues, starting in June, via monthly distribution of 20 million of its SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody tests, priced at roughly $5 apiece, qualitatively detecting IgG antibodies in human serum, which received EUA in mid-April. Of course, Abbott has also received FDA clearance for two other non-serological COVID-19 tests and has two others in the pipeline.

$1.2 billion: That’s the quarterly gross revenue boost Roche is expecting, if and when it secures FDA clearance for its own serology test, at a reimbursement rate of $3 per test. EUA is expected to come in May.

Other companies that have secured EUA clearance for SARS-CoV-2 antibody serology assays include (in chronological order) Cellex, Chembio Diagnostics, Dia Sorin and Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. In addition to Roche, companies seeking and expected to quickly receive EUA for serology products in the pipeline include CE Mark and Siemens Healthineers.



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