The lab powering pandemic sports
BioReference Laboratories, Inc. has been a key cog in the sports-amid-a-pandemic machine, providing tailor-made, COVID-19 testing solutions for most major American sports leagues.
What to know: Founded in 1981 and owned by parent company OPKO Health, BioReference is one of the largest full-service, specialty laboratories in the U.S., averaging 50-60,000 PCR tests per day.
The state of play: BioReference works mostly with non-sports clients (they've tested New York City public schools, for example). But the company's athletic footprint is unmatched over the past year.
- Bubbles: NBA, NHL and MLS bubbles; Winter X Games; NBA G League bubble.
- Non-bubbles: 2020-21 NFL season; current NBA and NHL seasons; USMNT and USWNT.
- Fan testing: Bills home playoff games; NBA teams hosting fans this season.
Between the lines: Each client requires a custom solution. So while BioReference has become the de facto "sports testing partner," they've provided vastly different services from league to league.
- NFL: BioReference performed 1.23 million tests last season, comprising 5,000 people tested daily for seven months, per OPKO's Q4 earnings call. They tested teams at their facilities, then delivered the tests to nearby labs, which returned results within 24 hours.
- NBA: Roughly 100 BioReference employees lived in the Disney bubble and administered tests to players, which were then driven 75 minutes away to a lab in Melbourne, Florida.
- Fans: Testing fans ahead of the Bills' playoff games presented a new challenge. "We had to build the IT infrastructure so fans could go to the website, pick a time, schedule their test, show up, get tested in five minutes and have the result on their phone within 24 hours," executive chairman Jon Cohen tells Axios.
What's next: BioReference has an agreement with MLB to be their testing partner for the 2021 season, which begins in less than five weeks.