FDA approves new testing technique to help prevent backlog

Reporter: Veronica Marshall Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

A new tool is being introduced by the FDA to cut down on the number of backlogged coronavirus tests and speed up the testing process altogether.

The FDA has given given permission to Quest to use specimen pooling to test COVID-19 samples. So far, Quest is the only lab with approval to do specimen testing.

“If it’s negative, it means all patients’ individual specimens are negative,” said Dr. Baha Abdalhamid, with the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“If it’s positive, we retest each specimen individually to detect which one of those is positive,” he said.

Dr. Abdalhamid has studied specimen pooling and says not only does it save time in the testing process but it saves labs money, resources and manpower.

But, at this point, it may not be enough to save our state. “Above that 10 or 15%, pooling testing won’t really be as cost-effective or saving more reagents as it should be,” said Dr. Abdalhamid.

Southwest Florida is already at 19% positivity rate. However, there is still hope that specimen pooling can help some of our population.

“School students, military service members, athletes – we expect the positive rate in these populations will be less than 10%, so we can do group testing or pooling,” Dr. Abdalhamid said.

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