Administration Updates / Coronavirus / Safety & Health

Ex-FDA Chief Says New Covid-19 Antigen Test a ‘Game-Changer’

U.S. approval of a new antigen test to rapidly screen people for the coronavirus “is a real game-changer,” said the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The emergency use authorization — the first ever by the FDA for a Covid-19 antigen test — was granted to San Diego-based Quidel Corp. late Friday, according to a notice from the agency.

The move could mark a breakthrough in screening for the virus and comes as state and local governments ease lockdown orders and businesses begin reopening across the nation — and as health professionals argue that swift screening is essential to temper new outbreaks.

“It’s a very rapid test that could be used in a doctor’s office,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Doctors now have about 40,000 of these Sophia machines already installed in their offices” where they are used to test for strep throat and flu, he said.

Each test will probably cost about $5, with results available within minutes, said Gottlieb, now a special partner at New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm that invests in the health-care and biotech sectors.

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