Coronavirus

US ramping up production of cheap, rapid coronavirus tests

Rapid tests will expand testing in schools and workplaces

American manufacturers are actively ramping up production of cheap, fast, but less accurate COVID-19 tests, hoping to produce 100 million a month by the end of the year, which will significantly expand testing in schools and workplaces..

By the end of October, more than half a dozen so-called antigen tests are likely to be registered by the end of October, according to sources in the manufacturing sector and government. In recent months, regulators have approved antigen tests from Abbott Laboratories, Becton Dickinson & Co, Quidel Corp and LumiraDX.

As the sources explain, taking into account the increase in production and registration of new tests, it will be possible to conduct up to 200 million tests per month..

Manufacturers of the four newly approved antigen tests can produce about 40 million tests a month, but productivity is expected to more than double by the end of the year.

Unlike laboratory molecular diagnostics that cost $ 100 or more, which is currently the most commonly used, antigen tests can cost as little as $ 5.US ramping up production of cheap, rapid coronavirus tests They can be done anywhere and get the result in minutes. This opens up the possibility of regular screening in schools and businesses even for asymptomatic carriers, experts say, which is an important tool for containing future outbreaks..

However, regulators and health experts are concerned about the reliability of antigen tests. They usually find the virus in 80 to 90 percent of cases, which is below 95 percent of laboratory tests. False negative results increase the likelihood that sick people could unwittingly spread COVID-19.

In addition, there is insufficient data to ensure that new tests can detect the virus at an early, pre-symptomatic stage, potentially limiting their usefulness..

It is expected that this month in the United States it will be possible to conduct 3 million tests for coronavirus per day, about half of them are antigen tests.US ramping up production of cheap, rapid coronavirus tests In October, that figure could rise to 135 million a month, a senior official said at a meeting of the US Congress Commission on Wednesday..

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