During a recent update on COVID-19's impact on lab testing volumes and dynamics, XIFIN Executive Chairman & CEO Lâle White said XIFIN is continuing to see a week over week increase in the overall volume of PCR testing following the winter holidays. Testing volume for December overall saw a slight downshift, mostly due to holiday activity.
"The base volume is really back for most of the industry," she said. "And we're seeing that base volume actually increasing as well. We're seeing that about 15% of the volume is a combination of COVID and flu, ordered together. So that continues to be holding in December and January. We haven't seen an uptick in antibody, but we do expect that once the vaccines are being rolled out that there might be more of a need for antibody, and we'll be following that closely to see how that shapes up."
White, who joined colleague Kyle Fetter, XIFIN Chief Operating Officer, as featured speakers on UBS' January Expert Event, also pointed out that:
As far as volume through 2021, White said the industry expects a decrease in volume during the second half of the year when more vaccines are in play. Conservatively, the volume will likely be 30% to 50% of what they are currently.
Another factor affecting volume in 2021 will be the PCR test itself, which will continue to see demand despite ramp ups in other types of testing and the presence of vaccinations.
"There are a lot of point of care testing and other things that general COVID testing will shift to," said White. "There are reasons to do PCR because of the environment that we're in, which make the PCR continue to be a fairly important test. We're talking about the introduction of two mutations that are now coming across the United States, and more are expected. And so, we do see the PCR having a long-term role, but not at the current volumes. We expect to see a downtick, obviously, in the second half of this year. But we still think that there will be a fairly good demand for PCR testing for a while."
Fetter said there are a couple of other factors in addition to the PCR testing profile to watch: the rollout of the vaccine, which would impact PCR-based testing, and cold weather, which had a significant effect in Q4 2020. He said people remaining indoors for prolonged periods has been associated with the latest uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Other topics discussed during the one-hour call include: