The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved last week the use of a new sample procurement procedure for patients who suspect that they have the virus. Per Admiral Dr. Brett P. Giroir, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary, healthcare officials throughout the country can make the new procedure available to the public sometime this week.
How does it differ from current processes?
Coronavirus tests are in short supply. To take a sample from a person, a healthcare worker must painfully swab deep inside a patient’s nose with a long applicator. The current process is not only invasive, but it also puts healthcare workers at risk and requires that each worker change their protective gear after every collection. The results then can take days to come back from laboratories.
The new process only requires that a suspected coronavirus patient collect saliva and nasal secretions with a soft foam applicator. The patient can perform the procedure anywhere and then simply seal the sample in a bag to hand off to healthcare officials for testing.
At this time, depending on the patient’s location, test results may still take days. That said, on Monday, March 30, President Donald Trump announced that the FDA has also approved an Abbott Laboratories’ test that could significantly cut down the wait time from days to minutes.
This is an ongoing story.