Opko Health Shares Surge After BioReference Labs Division Scores NFL Coronavirus Testing Contract

BioReference Labs executive chairman Jon Cohen told TheStreet's founder, Jim Cramer, that his clinical lab "will be testing all 32 teams in 30 different cities around the country” during the upcoming NFL season.

Opko Health Inc.  (OPK) - Get Report shares surged higher Tuesday after the medical testing group's BioReference Labs division won a coronavrus screening contract with the National Football League.

BioReference Labs, the third-largest clinical laboratory in the United States, will handle testing for 32 teams in 30 cities around the country, its executive chairman, Jon Cohen, told CNBC's Mad Money program late Monday. Last week, BioReference Labs was awarded a coronavirus screening contract with the National Basketball Association as it ramps-up its regular season re-start at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It also marshals testing for Major League Soccer. 

Cohen said BioReference Labs is now providing COVID-19 test results in 72 hours, with expedited 24-hour service for front-line healthcare workers, and can process up to 70,000 PCR tests each day.

The confirmation follows news that the NFL, along with the NFL Players' Association, agreed to daily COVID-19 testing of all players, coaches and staff during the first two weeks of training camp, which is expected to start early next month, a pace that will slow to every other day if the positive rate is pegged below 5%. NFL rules will require two negative tests for all those involved in camp -- over a five day period -- before they can enter team facilities. 

Opko Health shares were marked 23.1% higher in early trading Tuesday at $6.10 each, an all-time high and a move that would nearly triple the stock's year-to-date gain and value the Elmwood Park, New Jersey-based group at just under $4.1 billion. 

BioReference was also selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide antibody testing as part of the agency's  Emergency Response program.

"Working with the CDC underscores the importance of public, private partnership to achieve a worthwhile COVID-19 response,' Cohen said. "Many studies suggest that the majority of the public has not been infected with COVID-19, but multiple factors limit these findings."

"Together with the leading public health authority, we are leveraging extensive depth and breadth of testing expertise to increase overall understanding of the disease burden of the virus," he added.