Testing for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, is emerging as key in the battle against the disease. Now Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche says the company has received emergency approval from U.S. authorities for a faster test.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams says coronavirus infections are expected to continue rising in America in the coming weeks. But he claims the U.S. has “turned the tide” on testing, a critical part of tracking and containing pandemics (diseases that have spread worldwide).
Meanwhile, global authorities are applying pressure to testing labs. They want the labs to speed up results. Previous testing often took at least 24 hours.
But now doctors in the fight against COVID-19 may have a new weapon. Roche’s testing system provides results in just 3 ½ hours. Quick results mean the system can handle more than 4,000 tests per day.
Sadly, a series of missteps hobbled early U.S. testing efforts. These included flaws with the testing kits first distributed by the federal government and various hurdles that held up testing by private laboratories.
Winning U.S. approval means Roche’s system is also approved for use in many other countries.
The Swiss firm is pushing its factories to the limit. It wants to produce as many test kits as possible as the numbers of COVID-19 patients keeps rising. As Adams tells reporters, “We are at a critical . . . point in this country.”
Roche is now in talks with U.S. authorities over deploying more test systems to infection hotspots around the country, where they are most needed. Those sites include Washington state, where most of the nation’s coronavirus deaths have occurred.
What a comfort that Psalm 46:1 still holds true: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”!
(An employee of the Swiss drug maker Roche works in a lab at the company’s headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Reuters)