A person receives a coronavirus test on July 16 in Long Beach, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
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.”