New COVID-19 Testing Device Gives Results In Minutes

UC San Diego Medical Center plans to use the "ID Now" device to test 75-100 people daily. The device is also being used at all five Scripps Health hospitals

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UC San Diego Medical Center is now conducting COVID-19 tests using at least six different platforms, including a device that can give results in a matter of minutes.

“I can say definitively it does work quite well because we finished our evaluation yesterday and we’re training people so we make certain that they know how to run it,” said Dr. David Pride, Infectious Disease Specialist at UC San Diego Medical Center.

The “ID Now” rapid testing device is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories of Chicago. A spokesperson said there are currently 190,000 of the devices available in 21 states. The company is working fast to manufacture more. Each tests costs about $40.

Scripps Health is also using the device at its five hospital campuses in San Diego County, the hospital announced Thursday.

UC San Diego Medical Center is hoping to conduct 75 to 100 tests per day using the new device. The medical center has previously used the device for testing the flu and strep. But currently, technicians are being trained to use the device to test for COVID-19.

The platform tests one sample at a time. A swab from a patient is inserted into a chemical solution that breaks open the virus and releases its genetic material. This solution is then placed in the machine where a small section of the virus’ genetic sequence, if present, is quickly amplified, according to Scott Laffee with the UC San Diego communications department.

“What’s maybe even more important is that it can provide negative results in as little as 15 minutes, so you can know who has it and who doesn’t have it within 15 minutes,” said Dr. Pride.

The addition of the rapid testing device adds to an encouraging trend of having more testing platforms. Since March 10, Dr. Pride said UC San Diego Medical Center has conducted more than 3,300 tests. He says that number will continue to increase as they ramp up the ability to test.

“We’re sort of taking the approach that we’re using multiple different testing kits on different platforms from different companies which has allowed us to be able to ramp up our testing and testing demand,” said Dr. Pride.

He says the rapid testing will be used on high-priority patients with the most severe symptoms. But he also said the test could be used on all patients.

“And the reason we might want to test most people who are admitted to the hospitals is that we want to make certain people aren’t bringing COVID-19 into the hospital without us knowing about it,” said Dr. Pride.

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