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FDA grants emergency approval to coronavirus test, reports say method could increase tests 'tenfold'

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Posted at 11:15 AM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 12:15:24-04

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency approval to a new coronavirus test in the hopes speeding up the process of testing patients for the disease, according to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

The FDA gave "emergency use authorization" to tests that run on Roche Holding AG ’s cobas 6800/8800 systems. Bloomberg reports that the 8800 system can test more than 4,000 patients a day, and the 6800 version can test more than 1,400 patients a day.

The WSJ reports that the machines can deliver results in about three-and-a-half hours.

According to WSJ, the test is only the third to receive emergency use authorization by the FDA. The agency previously approved testing methods developed by the CDC and the New York State Department of Health.

According to figures released by the CDC, about 2,000 people are being tested for the coronavirus each day in the United States — far less than in other countries around the world. According to the BBC, 20,000 people are tested for the virus every day in South Korea.

Officials fear the lack of testing capacities has unwittingly caused the spread of the virus. Currently, about 1,300 people in the U.S. are confirmed to have contracted the virus, according to Johns Hopkins, but officials believe the number of people who carry the virus to be much higher.