Week in Review: The lack of data on early SARS-CoV-2 samples | LumiraDx layoff | Magellan former execs charged by DOJ

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Dear LabPulse.com reader:

LumiraDx is among a series of in vitro diagnostic companies that recently announced changes stemming from lower COVID-19 testing demand. On Thursday, the company announced a strategic refocus and cost restructuring program aimed at reducing its scale and operations to pre-pandemic levels. LumiraDx will reduce its global workforce by approximately 40%, including full-time, part-time, and contractor positions. In February, one of its competitors, Lucira Health, announced that it had filed for bankruptcy and was seeking a strategic partner. Other firms to recently announce organizational reshuffles as a result of less demand for COVID-19 testing include OraSure and Cue Health.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers nationwide administered an evolving array of monoclonal antibody treatments, previously untested on such a large scale. A study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that this effort saved lives.

WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove this week criticized the politicization that has clouded the quest to learn the facts about the emergence and origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “Three weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) learned that scientists in China possessed data on viral samples from Wuhan that had been gathered in January 2020, which should have been shared immediately -- not 3 years later -- with the global research community,” she wrote in an editorial published on Thursday in Science.

Researchers continue to try to develop technologies and tests that speed results. This week, we reported on an initiative by Northwestern University researchers who are developing technology that may make it easier to eavesdrop on the body’s inner conversations, including molecular signals that arise from health issues. The researchers believe that the work, published recently in Nature Communications, could facilitate the detection of these faint signals in real time.

Meanwhile, University of Washington researchers are working on technology that they believe could enable people to self-screen for prediabetes using any smartphone. Eight out of 10 Americans with prediabetes don’t know they have it, putting them at risk for type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease, kidney failure, and vision loss. Given the prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes, the researchers believe that their technology demonstrates the smartphone’s potential as a health screening tool.

Some testing firms and executives are on the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) radar; on Wednesday, three former executives of Magellan Diagnostics were charged with concealing a device malfunction that allegedly caused inaccurate lead test results for tens of thousands of children and other patients. Separately, Austin, TX-based Genotox Laboratories this week agreed to pay at least $5.9 million to resolve allegations that it paid volume-based commissions to third-party marketers in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and submitted claims to federal health care programs for unnecessary drug tests.

 

Thank you for reading.

Leo O’Connor

Editor in Chief

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