The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new rapid coronavirus test that could give results in less than an hour, rather than the days it takes right now. With a nationwide shortage of testing kits, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), hospitals and medical workers are begging the Trump Administration to find solutions that will help to streamline the diagnostic process and keep medical workers safe as they care for coronavirus patients in their hospitals.
The test kits, which were approved by the FDA on Friday and were created by a company called Cepheid, will begin shipping out next week throughout the United States. The company has not said exactly how many tests will be shipped starting next week. The medical industry, which has been flooded with patients in recent weeks looking for tests, has had to turn people away that have not met the strict criteria needed to qualify for a COVID-19 test.
A cough, fever, and known contact with a confirmed case are just a few of the criteria that patients must meet in order to qualify for the test. But with slow testing results, a high reproduction number (referring to the amount of people likely to get infected from one single patient) and an overall shortage in both testing kits and PPE, patients often don’t know whether or not they’ve come into contact with a confirmed case at all.
Manufacturing companies around the United States are being called upon to assist in production efforts on things like face masks and ventilators.
The Trump Administration has been working to both combat the crashing economy and handle the already overwhelmed medical system over the last couple of weeks. President Trump has, as of Friday afternoon, invoked the Defense Production Act.
The act would call for the nation’s manufacturers to switch production from their normal production to create wartime goods that would go toward fighting the greater cause. In World War II, the war efforts saw women on factory floors creating anything from canned goods and penicillin to medical supplies, combat gear, and weapons.
Though this may not be a case of war, the fight against the Coronavirus has seen companies like Amazon, Walmart, Google, and even grocers around the country stepping up to shift their normal operations to meet the sudden new needs of consumers in quarantine.
While the new rapid coronavirus test will likely help doctors diagnose the disease much faster, the company has not said exactly how many will be made available when they begins shipping next week. In that case, the CDC has asked that patients experiencing symptoms go through a screening process online and contact their doctor before going to the testing centers.