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MSU researcher waiting FDA approval for faster COVID-19 test

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Posted at 7:18 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 19:18:08-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Experts agree one of the most important parts of any attempt to contain coronavirus is better testing.

A doctor at Michigan State University is working on a new rapid-response test to help with that.

Researchers at MSU's Institute for Quantitative Health said their COVID-19 test can get results in 10 minutes, instead of the hours or even days the current testing takes.

"The initial FDA cleared, CDC approved test is very laborious in the nature of what it takes to get that test done," said Dr. Brett Etchebarne, MSU assistant professor of Emergency Medicine.

That means people who are tested for coronavirus can be waiting as long as 14 days to get their results.

Dr. Etchebarne said it shouldn't take that long to get answers at this point.

"It's of the utmost importance to have this coronavirus detection method on par with influenza or another given the fact it is so contagious," he said.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said waiting days for test results is no longer acceptable.

"That doesn't help us with what that testing is intended for and that's the public health measures of containment," said Vail.

That's why Dr. Etchebarne developed a COVID-19 test where results are known within five to 10 minutes.

"I want to know, while you see me, the answer to why you're there. Not for me to guess and make presumptions," said Dr. Etchebarne.

Dr. Etchebarne, who also works in a Lansing ER, said knowing sooner could also help alleviate some of the strain on local hospitals.

"We can be well aware of the necessity of full protection, and proper hygiene and that person can be isolated," he said.

Vail said having rapid testing available will help keep coronavirus manageable once the pandemic is over.

"If we don't have the ability to rapidly identify those, it is going to be very hard to keep that dance at a dance level and not have it turn into another peak," said Vail.

This rapid testing will also allow for more than one test to be done at a time, unlike the current testing method.

The Food and Drug Administration still needs to sign off before clinical trials begin.

Dr. Etchebarne said he expects that to happen in about a week.

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