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March 13, 2020updated 20 Mar 2020 3:16pm

US health network develops rapid response Covid-19 test

New Jersey-based health network Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) has created a rapid response test for diagnosing Covid-19.

By Chloe Kent

New Jersey-based health network Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) has created a rapid response test for diagnosing Covid-19.

The developers hope this will allow for a more effective triage system in hospitals and better control the spread of the disease. More than 127,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed globally, with New Jersey confirming 23 presumptive positives.

The CDI has now received preliminary Emergency Use Authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start using the test, which has also been approved by the state Department of Health.

CDI has been working on the new test since mid-January following. It combines elements of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) diagnostic and the German-developed test adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Its accuracy has been validated using live virus and viral RNA.

Initially, the network will be able to use the Covid-19 rapid response test on 24 patients every eight hours, with hopes to expand the use of the test throughout the region.

CDI chief scientific officer and senior vice president David Perlin said: “We believe our test could make the difference in stemming outbreaks. It’s fast and it’s accurate, and crucial hours could mean the difference in stopping the spread of this virus.”

Network officials have stressed that strict protocols will continue to be followed regarding which patients are eligible for testing. Patients cannot simply request the test if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms or believe they may have been exposed to the virus without consulting with their primary care physician.

The rollout of Covid-19 testing across the US has been heavily criticised, with faulty test kits, reliance on laboratory results and difficulty accessing tests leaving people worried the disease will spread further.

Hackensack Meridian Health chief physician executive Daniel Varga said: “Having our own test, which allows us to respond in real-time, is the crucial tool we need at the point-of-care when we need it most.”

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