Mar 13, 2020 - Health

Some areas of U.S. facing shortages of nasal swabs, key for coronavirus testing

Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Some areas of the U.S. are facing a shortage of nasal swabs, an essential material to test people for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Coronavirus testing in the U.S. has been woefully lagging behind other countries — a criticism the Trump administration is trying to fix. Labs have been short on other materials like "RNA extraction" kits that are needed for testing.

Yes, but: The shortages aren't national — rather, they're confined to specific locations, one source with direct knowledge told me.

  • The Food and Drug Administration has published a list of alternative materials that can be used.

Go deeper: Why the U.S. is so far behind on coronavirus testing

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Untested rape kits leave thousands of serial rapists at large

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A recent push by lawmakers and activists to test sexual assault kits, or rape kits, for DNA matches led to the introduction of 105 state bills and the enactment of 28 new laws in 2019 to provide funding and resources to test the kits, according to the nonprofit End the Backlog.

Why it matters: The rape kits are often the only physical evidence in a court case, and processing them has led to the arrest of hundreds of sexual assault offenders across the country.

Abbott Labs previews portable, 5-minute coronavirus test

Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Abbott Laboratories says it has received emergency authorization from the FDA to produce portable novel coronavirus tests, which the company indicates can detect the virus within five minutes and will be available starting next week.

Why it matters, via Axios' Sam Baker: The U.S. doesn't have the capacity to do enough COVID-19 testing right now, and the tests that are available can take a week to produce results. Closing both of those gaps will be key to getting the virus under control.

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

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.

Go deeperArrowMar 3, 2020 - Health