May 7, 2020 / 3:22 PM / a month ago

Becton Dickinson to boost testing capacity for potential second COVID-19 wave

(Reuters) - Medical technology company Becton Dickinson and Co said on Thursday it was preparing to ramp up manufacturing operations to handle demand for COVID-19 testing kits in the event of a second wave of infections in the fall.

The respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus has infected over 1.1 million people and claimed over 70,000 lives in the United States, and experts have warned a second wave of the outbreak could be much worse as it would likely arrive with the start of the influenza season.

Among the many tests Becton Dickinson has launched over the past month is a test kit that can give results in two to three hours as well as an antibody test that can confirm current or past exposure to COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes.

The company currently has the capacity to provide about 1 million on-site tests a month and nearly 1 million antibody tests.

“We’re preparing additional capacity to ensure we can address both demand for a flu test and an antigen COVID-19 assay,” Chief Executive Officer Thomas Polen said on a conference call.

The company is also developing its fourth point-of-care test kit that could diagnose COVID-19 in less than 15 minutes and is awaiting the results of its studies to apply for the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization.

Point-of-care tests reduce the burden on hospitals and laboratories to administer the tests, process results and allow patients to be tested in a wider array of locations.

Becton Dickinson on Thursday reported second-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.55 per share, on revenue of $4.25 billion. Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $2.32 per share and revenue of $4.13 billion.

It suspended its full-year financial forecast as hospitals and patients delay non-essential medical procedures amid government-imposed lockdowns.

Shares of the company were up 1.6% at $263.40 in morning trade.

Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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