Mar 3, 2020 - Health

U.S. health official expects nearly 1M coronavirus tests this week

Vice President Mike Pence flanked by top health officials at a news conference

Vice President Mike Pence (C) speaks at the White House Monday, flanked by (L to R) senior health officials Robert Redfield, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Debbie Birx, Seema Verma, Alex Azar and Stephen Hahn. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn told a news conference Monday that health officials should be able to perform nearly 1 million tests for the novel coronavirus by the end of the week.

Why it matters: Officials in the U.S. and around the world are scrambling to combat a rise in cases of COVID-19.

The estimates that we’re getting from industry right now, by the end of this week close to 1 million tests will be able to be performed."
— Stephen Hahn at the news conference
  • Hahn's remarks come as the Trump administration has ordered an independent investigation after a top federal scientist raised concerns about possible contamination in a CDC lab in Atlanta where the government made test kits for the coronavirus, as first reported by Axios.

By the numbers: The CDC said in a statement Monday there were 91 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in the U.S., but this was before more cases were announced in Washington state and Georgia — taking the number of infections past 100.

What they're saying: Hahn said at the news conference he expected to see a "substantial increase" in the number of tests because of a new policy enabling regulatory flexibility so academic centers and private firms could develop and verify tests for public use quicker "this week, next week and throughout the month."

  • Vice President Mike Pence, who's leading the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, stressed at the news conference that despite the rise of infections in the U.S., the risk of contracting the virus remains low.
  • "We're focused on mitigation of the spread, as well as the treatment of the people affected," Pence said.

Go deeper: Lab for coronavirus test kits may have been contaminated

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