In a bid to ramp up its fight against the deadly coronavirus, the United States Food and Drug Administration on March 22 approved the first rapid coronavirus diagnostic test with a detection time of only about 45 minutes. The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar also hailed the point-of-care diagnostics as “new tools” but also said that it has made the country move into a “new phase of testing” as it will make detection of Americans easier and faster.
The test’s developer is a California-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid said on March 22 that it had received an emergency use authorization from the FDA for the test which will be used primarily in hospitals along with the emergency rooms. Moreover, according to reports, the company will start shipping the test kits to other hospitals next week. The FDS confirmed its approval and said that the company plans to roll out the availability of its testing by March 30. Under the current process for the testing, the samples are sent to centralized labs where the results usually take several days.
Today, @US_FDA issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for a point-of-care #COVID19 diagnostic for the Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test. https://t.co/G0K9BLny92 pic.twitter.com/qP4HExxJh9— Dr. Stephen M. Hahn (@SteveFDA) March 21, 2020
While the new test will enable the US medical officials to detect the COVID-19 infection faster, there’s another antibody testing which is considered more efficient in world’s fight with the coronavirus. The antibody tests are also known as serological testing which is expected to be more helpful to stem the easily spread fatal virus. Instead of looking for current infections, these tests, which a British company Attomaker Ltd has claimed would take only five minutes, can also screen the previous exposure to COVID-19. The detection would further give the scientists a look into the people who have recovered from the disease and have now potentially developed immunity of their body.
According to international reports, the head of the vaccines business unit for Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Rajeev Venkayya has said that the antibody test is “even more important” because it helps the medical officials understand the epidemiology of the coronavirus which has now spread to over 180 countries since being originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan in late December 2019.