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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

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

In-N-Out refuses to follow San Francisco's vaccine mandate

Photo: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

The California burger chain In-N-Out is refusing to follow San Francisco's vaccination mandate, which requires restaurants to check for customers' proof of vaccination to dine indoors, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The San Francisco Public Health Department has had to remind employees multiple times to check for proof of vaccination since September, ultimately resulting in the city's only In-N-Out location getting shut down on Oct. 14. It is the only time the agency has ordered a restaurant's closure over a mandate violation, officials told the Post.

8 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.