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A man gets tested for COVID-19. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The United States processed an average of 1.2 million COVID-19 tests daily in August and some of the highest daily totals since April.

Why it matters: The surge of the Delta variant led to unexpected test volumes for diagnostic lab companies, and Wall Street is anticipating unexpectedly bigger profits for those companies as a result.

What they're saying: Quest Diagnostics ran almost 100,000 standard COVID-19 tests every day in August. Labcorp only publishes updated test volumes quarterly now, but a spokesperson said the company is "seeing an increase in testing volumes primarily due to Delta and as students return to school."

  • Quest's daily volume is double what Wall Street analysts had predicted would be the norm by this time of the year, and Labcorp's volumes are very likely to be close to twice as high as expected.

The bottom line: Financial advisory firm Baird expects the additional tests will add $149 million of profit to Quest by the end of the year, and Labcorp's profit will rise by an extra $96 million by year's end.

  • Ann Hynes, a health care analyst at Mizuho Securities, said in an investor note that her bullish testing volumes still don't include "federally funded COVID-19 screening programs for K-12 students and staff, or increased testing from employers and local governments for mandatory testing for those individuals who choose not to be vaccinated."

Go deeper: Coronavirus testing is a windfall

Go deeper

21 hours ago - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

11 hours ago - Health

D.C. school employees required to get vaccinated

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

All D.C. school and daycare employees — public, private, and charter — must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 with no option to test out, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today.

  • Student athletes over the age of 12 will also be required to get vaccinated in order to participate in after-school programs, the mandate says. 
21 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.