FDA issues first emergency use authorization for COVID pool testing

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(CNN) – The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized COVID-19 pool testing.

The move will allow multiple people to be tested at once.

The agency announced an emergency use authorization for Quest Diagnostics on Saturday. The company can test up to four people at once for coronavirus.

According to the FDA, the samples collected from the four people “are then tested in a pool or ‘batch’ using one test, rather than running each individual sample on its own test. If the pool is positive, it means that one or more of the individuals tested in that pool may be infected, so each of the samples in that pool are tested again individually. Because the samples are pooled, it is expected that fewer tests are run overall, meaning fewer testing supplies are used and more tests can be run at the same time allowing patients to receive their results more quickly in most cases.”

The FDA commissioner said sample pooling is an important step that helps get COVID-19 tests to more Americans more quickly while preserving testing supplies.

This is the first COVID-19 diagnostic test in the United States to be authorized for use with pooled samples.

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