Cincinnati company’s stock price skyrockets on news of screening test for coronavirus

Updated: Jan. 27, 2020 at 11:10 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The stock price of Cincinnati-based Meridian Bioscience was up 40 percent at one point in public trading Monday.

The reason? A product called Lyo-Ready 1-Step RtaPCR Mix.

In layman’s terms, the mix is a screening kit for coronavirus. But it’s not just that—it’s a screening kit that’s faster and cheaper than most of its competitors, of which there are few to begin with.

That’s according to Meridian Bioscience CEO Jack Kenny and CFO Bryan Baldasare.

As for the stock price jump, it was due in part to a press release Meridian issued Monday morning around 9 a.m.

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The release outlined the current toll of the virus—56 dead, 2,000 infected—and the virus’s spread to countries outside China. It then touted the effectiveness of Meridian’s screening kit.

“The advantage of the Meridian Lyo-Ready 1-Step RT-qPCR Mix is that the assay (test) can be set up and freeze-dried so that they are highly stable, just requiring the patient sample to be added and the assay run,” Meridian China General Manager Liang Zhang, MD, said in the release. “This means that patients can be screened very quickly to help stop the spread of this virus.”

What does that mean? Zhang continues, it means patients can be screened quickly, which in turn can slow the spread of the disease.

That’s what got Wall Street’s attention, and Kenny and Baldasare weren’t completely prepared for it.

Meridian Bioscience's screening test for Coronavirus is both fast and inexpensive.
Meridian Bioscience's screening test for Coronavirus is both fast and inexpensive.(WXIX)

“This was a new experience for us,” Kenny said. “When we were doing the press release, we did not expect this to occur today.”

Kenny says Meridian is one of around 10 companies that make screening kit products able to test for coronavirus—and it’s one of just a few that makes a powdered form.

“We have a significant advantage because of the quality of the product, the way it’s shipped, the way it’s managed,” Kenny said.

That, he adds, is a big reason why Chinese labs are using it.

“Something in dry form like this, (it’s) much easier to store and has a longer life to it,” Baldasare explained.

That’s important too, especially considering neither Kenny nor Baldasare know how much demand for the product will exist going forward.

It all depends on how much the virus spreads.

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