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Pac-12 unveils new COVID-19 testing partnership to enhance safety

A Pac-12 logo is displayed on a football field.
The Pac-12 has announced a partnership with Fulgent Genetics to provide supplemental COVID-19 testing to every athletic department in the conference.
(Ryan Kang / Associated Press)

The Pac-12 Conference on Wednesday announced a new partnership with Fulgent Genetics to provide supplemental COVID-19 testing that will enhance its existing testing structure and help keep athletes from spreading the disease.

As part of the agreement, Fulgent will provide reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing — widely considered the gold standard in testing for COVID-19 — to every athletic department within the conference. The Pac-12 previously had announced a partnership with Quidel Corp. to acquire rapid testing for each of its athletic departments, prompting conference officials to reboot a fall sports season that had been put on hold.

“We are excited to be partnering with a leading testing company in Fulgent to provide our athletic departments with the very best capabilities to protect the health and well-being of our student-athletes,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “On the heels of our agreement with Quidel to provide rapid-results testing, today’s announcement represents another important step in providing a safe and healthy environment for a return to competition for our student-athletes.”

UCLA says it will report the number of athletes, coaches and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 on a weekly basis after previously not doing so.

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The tests provided by Fulgent provide a higher level of sensitivity and specificity than the rapid tests, giving more reliable results within 24 hours of receipt of the testing sample. The new tests will add another layer of security to ensure that athletes who take the practice field and compete in games do not have COVID-19.

“Routine, rapid testing is playing a key role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and is helping to keep players, coaches and staff safe as they look to return to competition,” Brandon Perthuis, chief commercial officer of Fulgent, said in a statement. “The Pac-12 has implemented several protocols in this area, and the RT-PCR testing provided by Fulgent Genetics is an important part of this process.”

Pac-12 football teams are slated to start the season the weekend of Nov. 6, with the full schedule expected to be released later this week.


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