The United States Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval for the use of a new crucial coronavirus test that works up to 10 times faster than current tests, reports Bloomberg.
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New speedy coronavirus test
The speediness of the new coronavirus test refers specifically to the greater technical capabilities of the testing process. This means that — while public access to testing remains an unanswered concern — this is the first commercially available test to receive emergency approval. Additionally, necessary equipment for the test is commonly found across the country.
Testing is crucial to curb and control the spread of the deadly coronavirus since those infected by the novel virus show a broad scope of symptoms, many of whom may be silent carriers, with tame to mild symptoms of the disease showing on the outside.
This is why it's crucial to build effective and widely available testing systems, ones that can scale up to test large populations every day. Testing capabilities taken to scale helps the larger defense strategy because it identifies the scope of affected populations, and also underscores the need for passive tactics like social distancing and isolation.
FDA approves COVID-19 test at scale
With emergency approval from the FDA, the new coronavirus tests can test up to 1,440 patients every day using an earlier version of Roche's testing hardware, but can scale up to 4,128 per day on an upcoming iteration. Bloomberg noted that roughly 110 of these machines are currently available in the U.S., with more installed in "significant" volume in the last few weeks as massive response efforts begin to gain momentum.
However, access to coronavirus tests remains a heavy issue in the U.S., receiving criticism from healthcare professionals and experts, including during a congressional hearing this week.
Other countries — like South Korea, Japan, and China — seem to have curbed the exponential curve of infections, reports Vox. This is attributed to excellent and widely available coronavirus testing, with effectiveness that comes from large-scale implementation. This newly-approved test should also help private labs increase the availability of testing in the U.S., however, the actual price that U.S. patients will have to pay remains unknown.