The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for the first rapid test for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The new test is cheaper than the more conventional diagnostic test and can be offered on a larger scale. The agency gave the approval under its emergency use authority on May 9.
The new test, the Sofia 2 SARS Antigen FIA, developed by the Quidel Corporation, requires the use of nasal cavity swabs like the conventional test, but it can deliver results in minutes. The conventional test, known as a polymerase chain reaction diagnostic test, can be “incredibly accurate,” according to the FDA, but can take days to process.
Diagnostic tests look for active virus and are different from serological, or antibody tests, which identity the immune system’s response to the virus. Antibody tests are in development, but none have been authorized for use outside certified labs.