LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Federal authorities have granted emergency approval for a rapid COVID-19 test which is reportedly highly accurate, less invasive, and can provide results in about 15 minutes.
State and federal authorities say testing will be key in helping to track and contain the virus which is now spreading more rapidly in parts of the country, including in Nevada.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, says the need for testing of younger individuals is growing.
"That it's going to continue to accelerate testing among the under 40 age group because that is the age group most likely to have asymptomatic spread and be spreading the virus unbeknownst to them," said Dr. Birx at a June 26 news conference.
Authorities say as more people are exposed to the virus the more important testing will become.
On Monday, the Federal Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval of the BD Veritor Rapid Detection System for COVID-19.
"This is a really exciting test to be able to add to the arsenal of testing that's already been done for COVID-19 infections," said Dr. Staci McHale, the president-elect of the Clark County Medical Society.
Dr. McHale says the machine is already in place at many urgent cares, doctor offices, and other settings which are used to test for illnesses such as influenza and strep throat.
The COVID-19 testing kit uses a nasal swab and solution which is read by the machine and the results are available in as little as 15 minutes.
"The test is not the true nasopharyngeal swab, the one that most people feel like you are swabbing your brain, this is just a swab that goes into the nose," said Dr. McHale.
The test joins the traditional PCR test which can take several days to receive results.
McHale says the newly approved test is very accurate, up to 98%, and will give patients a nearly immediate idea if they currently have the virus, need to quarantine, and inform others who may also need to get tested.
This should not be confused with antibody testing.
"Antibody testing is a completely different animal, that's done by blood tests, and that allows us to see if someone has been exposed to the disease in the past," explained Dr. McHale.
Antibody testing is ramping up but can take several days to receive results.
Experts suggest consulting your medical provider if they have the rapid test available.