Trump Administration Will Provide 150 Million Rapid Coronavirus Tests to States

It was announced by President Trump in a White House media briefing that his government has decided to distribute recently procured 150 million coronavirus testing kits for rapid diagnosis and these kits will be distributed across the country.

While this move was welcomed by democrats and republicans alike, health experts have raised some concerns regarding the kits introduced by Abbott citing their limitations.

According to experts, it is essential to increase the number and scope of coronavirus tests so that this pandemic can be brought under control in U.S which has so for claimed more than 200,000 lives and continues to pose a mega threat to the people residing in U.S more than in any other country.

Trump government is trying to augment the testing regime in country by the introduction of Abbott’s rapid testing kits but the health experts fear that the number of testing already being conducted in the country is nowhere near the minimum target to achieve better control of the pandemic. Experts have stated that the induction of these new kits will not create a significant difference.

To date, the collective coronavirus testing of different kinds has surpassed a hundred million marker and the daily test figure has reached to 0.85 million tests per day. These seemingly impressive numbers are still not sufficient as according to health experts this number should be in millions of tests per day range if we want to get a realistic picture of how far the virus has spread and other dynamics related to the epidemic. This amount of testing is not only limited to coronavirus as this is the amount of testing needed to assess and control any other epidemic as well.

The routine coronavirus test which is currently used in the entire planet is by PCR which although accurate is a relatively time taking test as its supplies are expensive and its results take hours to yield any conclusive remarks about the sample. This is where the rapid testing is being eyes as a potential candidate for rapid and accurate testing of coronavirus patients for early diagnosis to curb the spread of virus.

Binax NOW rapid test kits have been introduced by Abbott Labs and do not require PCR in order to yield result. The sample is taken from a painless swab of nostrils and then the kit can ascertain the result in 15 minutes without the use of any specialized machine such as a PCR.

Some states are already expecting a few hundred thousand doses and are expecting that the number of these doses may increase significantly in the next few days as more kits are procured and distributed throughout the country. The government has announced that as much as 6.5 million kits will be shipped in the first batch which will be majorly headed towards clinics and medicine stores.

It is worth noting that FDA has granted emergency approval to Abbott’s rapid testing kits with the condition that these kits will be only administered by an expert to a patient who is symptomatic for Covid-19. The ideal time window for this kit is within seven days from the time a person starts showing symptoms.

At the time of emergency approval, the kits were only shown to effectively test the symptomatic patients while the asymptomatic patients were not tested and therefore health professionals are still unaware of the efficiency of these kits in asymptomatic patients.

Therefore, healthcare professionals are reluctant to use such tests for diagnosis of Covid-19 in asymptomatic patients and they would prefer a testing mechanism which has been tried and tested for asymptomatic patients as well such as PCR.  Abbott claims that their rapid testing kits are as effective as PCR given that they are used in the first seven days since the symptoms start to appear, but their efficacy of kits rapidly falls short of its intended goal, as more days pass.

False negatives can be a problem if the testing is scarce, but some experts argue that mass testing on after every few days can help in overcoming the shortcomings of these kits. If the government is able to chalk out the logistics of such a massive distribution chain even, then the experts are of the opinion that that the testing approach needs to be rapidly growing in numbers while being cautious of obvious shortcomings of these tests.

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