Some Good News About Testing

The FDA recently approved a fast-acting test for people in hospitals

Emily Mullin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
1 min readMar 23, 2020

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Over the weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it authorized a coronavirus test that can provide a result in just 45 minutes. With the standard test, it takes one to four days to return a positive or negative result. The current testing method requires a nasal swab, but the new test doesn’t, which is a potential advantage as shortages of cotton swabs has been a concern.

The test, made by Silicon Valley-based diagnostics company Cepheid, uses an automated machine to analyze a person’s sample. More than 23,000 of Cepheid’s machines are already located in hospitals and health labs around the world.

There’s one catch: the test won’t be available to most people. Instead, it’s meant for testing very sick people who have already been admitted to the hospital, as well as health care workers that might be exposed to the virus on the job. Getting a result in less than an hour would allow doctors and nurses to know whether they’re infected much sooner, rather than waiting days for a result. And for people admitted to the ER with coronavirus symptoms, the new test could quickly rule out other potential ailments.

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Emily Mullin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Former staff writer at Medium, where I covered biotech, genetics, and Covid-19 for OneZero, Future Human, Elemental, and the Coronavirus Blog.