FDA approves pooled testing for coronavirus
The Food and Drug Administration said Saturday it granted the first emergency use authorization for pooled coronavirus testing to speed up the process.
Why it matters: The agency said pooling up to four samples at one time can help confirm whether people are infected with fewer resources, easing testing backlogs caused by a recent spike in infections.
How it works: If a pooled sample comes back negative, all patients are presumed coronavirus free. If a test is positive, each sample must be individually tested to find out which was positive.
- The FDA warned that pooling tests is most efficient in areas with low prevalence because most results are expected to be negative.
- If used in areas with high infection rates, health workers may use more resources to determine which samples in the pool are positive.
What they're saying: “This [emergency use authorization] for sample pooling is an important step forward in getting more COVID-19 tests to more Americans more quickly while preserving testing supplies,” said FDA commissioner Stephen M. Hahn.
- “Sample pooling becomes especially important as infection rates decline and we begin testing larger portions of the population.”