In addition to high- and moderate-complexity laboratories, the rapid molecular test can be used in certain patient-care settings, the agency said.
"The test we're authorizing today will be able to provide Americans with results within hours, rather than days like the existing tests," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement of Cepheid's Xpert Xpress test. "With new tools like point-of-care diagnostics, we are moving into a new phase of testing, where tests will be much more easily accessible to Americans who need them."
According to David Persing, chief medical and technology officer at Sunnyvale, California-based Cepheid, the company leveraged its Xpert Xpress Flu/RSV cartridge technology, which targets multiple regions of the viral genome, to detect current and potentially new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus which causes COVID-19.
The test is designed for use with Cepheid's automated GeneXpert Systems. Globally, there are 23,000 GeneXpert Systems, including 5,000 in the US. Results from the Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 can be obtained in about 45 minutes, the firm said.
Cepheid, which is part of Danaher, will begin shipping the test in the coming week.
The EUA issuance comes as the U.S. tries to meet an acute need for SARS-CoV-2 testing. As of Saturday evening, there were more than 24,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with the figure expected to spike in coming weeks as the backlog of patient tests gets smaller. Cepheid joins an expanding list of commercial test makers that have received EUAs for their SARS-Cov-tests, including Roche, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Abbott, Quidel, Hologic, GenMark Diagnostics, and DiaSorin Molecular.
Meanwhile, other companies developing point-of-care diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 include Credo Diagnostics, Mologic, Iceni Diagnostics, and Chembio Diagnostics.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Genomeweb.