Worried about whether you or a loved one have coronavirus?
You’re not alone. But unless you are in a high-risk category or really sick, you’re not likely to get tested. Even though the United States has pushed to test more people for COVID-19, it’s well behind other countries testing per capita. The U.S. has performed 894,000 tests as of March 28, according to Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. Among those who have been tested, results don’t come in until three to seven days after the test is administered.
This will hopefully change sooner rather than later. Cue Health, a company that develops and manufactures diagnostic tools for healthcare professionals and consumers, just landed a $13 million contract from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The money will go toward speeding up the development of a portable test that detects SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It would also help accelerate FDA approval for the nasal swab that would yield results in fewer than 25 minutes.
Cue Health has already worked in partnership with BARDA for the last two years to develop an at-home flu test that provides results in 20 minutes. Its COVID-19 test would be “point of care,” meaning it is meant for places like clinics and doctors’ offices and probably won’t be used in the home anytime soon.
Cue Health isn’t alone in ramping up development and manufacturing to get new testing to market. Abbott Labs got emergency use authorization from the FDA for a testing device for COVID-19 that delivers positive results in five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes. The device, which is the size of a toaster, is similarly meant for doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics, and emergency rooms.
“Our ultimate goal is to change the way professionals and consumers access important health information,” Cue Health CEO Ayub Khattak said in a statement.
The company did not provide an estimated date for when the tests will be available to healthcare professionals.