Regulators in the United States authorized a new type of test for coronavirus that government officials have promoted as a key resource for the resumption of activities in the country.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an emergency authorization for antigen testing conducted by Quidel Corporation of San Diego on Saturday. The test can quickly detect protein fragments in swab samples taken from inside the nasal cavity, the FDA said in a statement..
The antigen test is the third type of test to be cleared by the FDA.
Currently, the only way to diagnose active COVID-19 is with a nasal sample from the patient of the virus’s genetic material. Although considered highly accurate, testing can take hours and requires expensive and specialized equipment, used primarily in commercial laboratories, hospitals, or universities.
A second type of test tests for antibodies in the blood, proteins made by the body days or weeks after fighting the disease. Such tests are useful for researchers to understand how far the virus has spread in a community, but not to detect active infections.
Antigen testing can diagnose active infections by detecting the latest toxic traces of the virus rather than the genetic code of the virus itself.
The FDA indicated that it hopes to authorize more antigen testing soon.
Quidel noted on Saturday that the test can offer an accurate and automatic result in 15 minutes. The FDA emergency authorization “allows us to arm our healthcare workers and emergency personnel with a first-line solution for the diagnosis of COVID-19, by speeding up the time of diagnosis and potential treatment,” said Douglas Bryant, director general Quidel, through a statement.
The Abbott Laboratories genetic material test used at the White House also takes approximately 15 minutes.
The United States has attempted to increase testing with the genetic method, but the country’s daily count has stayed in the 200,000 to 250,000 range for weeks, below the millions of daily tests most experts consider necessary to reopen schools. , shops, churches and other institutions of daily life.