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This newly approved coronavirus test can screen people 10 times faster

Efficient testing procedures are crucial for knowing who is sick and needs treatment, tracking their contacts, and containing the spread of coronavirus as much as possible. The US has come under fire for its sluggish response to the pandemic; our failure to implement testing has prevented us from knowing how COVID is spreading in the US and has put more people at risk.

However, a new coronavirus test, developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, is available immediately to hospitals and commercial labs, reported the Washington Examiner. US Health officials granted “emergency use authorization” to the test, which is 10 times faster than the ones that the US has been using and its availability will make testing Americans for coronavirus easier and faster.

The new test is the third approved for emergency use in the US, and the first that is being made commercially available, according to Bloomberg. The new tests will run on Roche testing machines, called cobas. It’s a rough analogy, but think of the new test as a program that can be installed on an operating system. The tests use patient saliva or mucus and compare them with known strains of the coronavirus and provide results within four hours, Bloomberg reported.

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There are already 110 of these machines that can run these new tests in the US, and Roche has said that they’ve installed a significant number of new testing machines in the US, Bloomberg reported. The cobas testing machines comes in two models, 6800 and 8800; the 8800 model can test up to 4,128 patients a day and the 6800 model can test up to 1,440. “We are increasing the speed definitely by a factor of 10,” Thomas Schinecker, head of the Swiss drugmaker’s diagnostics unit, told Bloomberg.

Roche told Bloomberg that they are “going to the limits of production capacity,” trying to make as many tests available as quickly as possible. As of this morning, there were 1,663 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, and 46 patients have died. Let’s hope this new testing protocol helps to clear up the confusion about who is infected and how we, as a country, should proceed in order to keep the impact of coronavirus as minimal as is now possible.