US approves coronavirus test kit that can produce results in 45 minutes
A normal COVID-19 test takes Ghana’s two coronavirus testing centres a day or two to confirm a patient’s status, but the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a kit that could be the game-changer.
A YAHOO News report indicates that the regulatory body announced it had authorised the use of the first rapid diagnostic test that could detect the novel coronavirus in approximately 45 minutes.
In a statement, the US FDA said the company that developed the kit intended to roll out the availability of its testing by March 30.
The systems do not require users to have special training to perform testing and are capable of running around the clock.
The essential in the anti-coronavirus fight was developed a US-based molecular diagnostics company, Cepheid. It comes at a time the medical community has been looking to get quicker results to stem the tide of the coronavirus outbreak.
Currently, it could take from a day to many days to confirm a coronavirus case, a time lapse health experts say is a major hindrance.
“An accurate test delivered close to the patient can be transformative — and help alleviate the pressure that the emergence of the 2019-nCoV outbreak has put on healthcare facilities that need to properly allocate their respiratory isolation resources,” the Chief Medical Officer and Technology Officer Cepheid, Dr. David Persing, said.
The company did not give further details or say how much the test will cost.
According to health experts, if cases of the disease are not identified quickly and community spread continues unchecked, it could soon overwhelm a country’s medical system, just as it did in Wuhan.
“With new tools like point-of-care diagnostics, we are moving into a new phase of testing, where tests will be much more easily accessible to Americans who need them,” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar said on Saturday.
Currently, the United States is not even close to meeting domestic demand for coronavirus testing. Many medical experts have predicted that delayed and chaotic testing would cost lives, potentially including those of doctors and nurses.
The U.S. FDA has been pushing to expand screening capacity for the virus while the World Health Organization has called for “order and discipline” in the market for health equipment needed to fight the outbreak.
The diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19 has been designed to operate on any of Cepheid’s more than 23,000 automated GeneXpert Systems globally, the company said, YAHOO News said.
President Akufo-Addo on Saturday announced that the government had ordered 50,000 test kits and personal protective equipment to fight the disease.
The Nugouchi Memorial Centre for Medical Research and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research, the country’s two main testing centres last week, indicated that they had no resources to test cases in large numbers.
On Sunday, theghanareport.com reported that potential COVID-19 patients who turned up at the holding centre at the Ridge Hospital could not be attended to as they were told the did not work on weekdays.