The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved pool testing to detect the novel coronavirus, potentially allowing more Americans to be tested using fewer resources. Quest Diagnostics has been granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) allowing its test to be used with a batch of specimens at a time — up to four different swabs. If the overall sample comes back positive, then the individuals in the pool are retested in order to determine who has COVID-19.
FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a statement:
“this EUA for sample pooling is an important step forward in getting more COVID-19 tests to more Americans more quickly while preserving testing supplies. Sample pooling becomes especially important as infection rates decline and we begin testing larger portions of the population.”
The FDA noted that while there’s a possibility that pooling specimens may dilute the virus and therefore may make it harder to identify, however, Quest Diagnostics’ validation data showed the test identified all positives within the pooled samples evaluated.
The emergency approval comes as the U.S. saw increases in coronavirus cases. For the second day in a row, cases on Friday rose by at least 70,674 after climbing by a record 77,499 on Thursday, the largest increase posted by any country since the pandemic started.