Press Release Details

Quest Diagnostics Granted CDC Contract to Sequence COVID-19 Gene Variants to Aid Public Health Response to COVID-19

Quest's genomic sequencing and infectious disease expertise will identify novel SARS-CoV-2 mutations, providing insights on prevalence and transmission in the United States

SECAUCUS, N.J., Jan. 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide genomic sequencing to identify new mutations in, and patterns of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Financial terms of the agreement are not disclosed.

The goal of the collaboration is to aid the CDC in conducting a large-scale longitudinal genomic survey of the SARS-CoV-2 virus using a random set of samples collected from Quest's labs across the United States. The company will perform the sequencing from its advanced diagnostics laboratory in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Viruses can mutate over time. In recent weeks, highly transmissible variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus first discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa have been identified in the United States.  

Quest Diagnostics will sequence the viral genomes of random de-identified samples that test positive in the course of providing molecular diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 for providers and patients, and provide the CDC with completed whole viral sequences. These data will be combined with the results of other data provided to the CDC by national, state, academic, and commercial labs to help meet the CDC survey's aims.

"Public and private collaboration is essential to mobilizing an effective response to COVID-19," said Jay G. Wohlgemuth, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. "Quest has the expertise in genomics and infectious diseases, as well as extensive COVID-19 testing data and access to patient samples.  Our program will complement and extend the efforts of the CDC to discover and track new virus mutations and thereby improve public health response to the pandemic."

The CDC's survey aims to provide important baseline information for national and state-level surveillance, help define changes in transmission, identify new variants of the virus, and improve the public health response to the virus.

Quest Diagnostics and the CDC have a long history of collaboration to improve public health initiatives. Most recently, Quest joined the CDC's seroprevalence survey, which analyzes results of de-identified COVID-19 antibody tests to identify rates of COVID-19 prevalence in the United States. In addition, Quest is a member of the SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing for Public Health Emergency Response, Epidemiology and Surveillance (SPHERES) consortium, which launched in May 2020. Quest and the CDC are also long-time collaborators to identify trends in screening, diagnosis and treatment in viral hepatitis, HIV and sexually transmitted infections in the United States, based on insights revealed by analysis of Quest's national testing database. 

About COVID-19 Testing at Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics is at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, working to broaden access to laboratory insights to help us all lead healthier lives. We provide both molecular diagnostic and antibody serology tests to aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19 and immune response. Through our team of dedicated phlebotomists, air fleet team, couriers and laboratory professionals, Quest Diagnostics works hard every day to help patients and communities across the United States access quality COVID-19 testing. 

For more information about the latest developments with our COVID-19 testing, visit:

About Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics empowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world's largest database of clinical lab results, our diagnostic insights reveal new avenues to identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors and improve health care management. Quest annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and our 47,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives. Learn more about Quest Diagnostics at or follow us on social media: Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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