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In hopes of preventing further spread, shipping of CDC 2019 novel coronavirus diagnostic test kits begins

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A CDC-developed laboratory test kit to detect 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) began shipping yesterday to select qualified U.S. and international laboratories. Distribution of the tests will help improve the global capacity to detect and respond to the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The test kit, called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel (CDC 2019-nCoV Real Time RT-PCR), is designed for use with an existing RT-PCR testing instrument that is commonly used to test for seasonal influenza.

The CDC 2019 novel coronavirus test is intended for use with upper and lower respiratory specimens collected from people who meet CDC criteria for 2019-nCoV testing. The test uses a technology that can provide results in four hours from initial sample processing to result.

“Our goal is early detection of new cases and to prevent further spread of the coronavirus,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “Distribution of these diagnostic tests to state laboratories, U.S. government partners and more broadly to the global public health community will accelerate efforts to confront this evolving global public health challenge.”

The test kit has not been FDA cleared or approved, however distribution and use of the test kits follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) February 4, 2020, issuance of an Emergency Use Authorizationexternal icon (EUA). The tests are being shipped through the International Reagent Resource (IRR)external icon, a CDC-established mechanism that distributes laboratory reagents domestically and globally.

Initially, about 200 test kits will be distributed to U.S. domestic laboratories and a similar amount will be distributed to select international laboratories. Each test kit can test approximately 700 to 800 patient specimens. Additional test kits will be produced and made available for ordering in the future from the IRR. At this time, each laboratory that places an order will receive one 2019-nCoV test kit.

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