Tags: Coronavirus | alex azar | virus | testing | outbreak

Alex Azar: Coronavirus Testing 'Radically' Expanding

secretary of health and human services alex azar
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 04 March 2020 12:24 PM

The capability to test people for the novel coronavirus has been "radically" expanded in the United States, meaning that if a person's doctor or public health official thinks a person should be tested, then kits will be available, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday.

"We had been doing as other industrial countries had been doing, [using] guidelines for testing of individuals who had traveled to affected areas or had severe respiratory symptoms," Azar explained on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "Now that we have capacity up and running, if anyone thinks they have an issue or a doctor or public health says they should get tested, they should get tested."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be shipping out kits with the capability for 75,000 tests this week, said Azar, and a private contractor that has the CDC test will be shipping enough for "over a million" tests to hospitals and labs, said Azar.

Azar added that he and Vice President Mike Pence, who is coordinating the government's efforts, are working with the private sector and have "unleashed the regulatory burden," which will allow it to come up with its own tests without waiting for Food and Drug Administration approval.

"We'll see millions of available tests also through that," said Azar.

Meanwhile, a vaccine has been designed within three days of getting the virus' genetic sequence from China, said Azar, and then two days ago, the FDA granted approval for the National Institutes of Health to start phase one clinical testing within five weeks.

The rapid expansion of testing will also show how many people are ending up with mild to moderate symptoms of the coronavirus that they would think are the cold or flu.

"That impacts the denominator on the fatality rate, concerning how many people are, unfortunately, passing away versus how many are infected," said Azar.

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The capability to test people for the novel coronavirus has been "radically" expanded in the United States, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
alex azar, virus, testing, outbreak
Wednesday, 04 March 2020 12:24 PM
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