WASHINGTON – Hospitals around the country must develop diagnostic tests to quickly detect possible cases of the coronavirus that started in China and is spreading across the world, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
The FDA, which has launched a website with key information about the virus, said in a statement released Jan. 27 that all tests for the virus must be done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, because of a lack of commercially available products authorized to detect the virus.
“We have a vital mission to protect and promote public health and the FDA is closely collaborating with our domestic and international public health partners to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.
To date, there have been 165 suspected cases of coronavirus in the United States, of which 5 have been confirmed in California, Washington, Arizona and Illinois; 68 tested negative and 92 cases are pending, according to the CDC’s website. Outside of China, where the virus emerged in December, there have been confirmed cases in 19 countries including France, Japan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
The National Institute of Health is working with the CDC on creating next-generation diagnostics aimed at taking care of coronavirus patients that medical centers across the country will be able to easily access, said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Tuesday.
“We have already started at the NIH, and with many of our collaborators, on the developing of a vaccine,” Fauci said. “I anticipate, with some cautious optimism, that we will be in a Phase 1 trial within the next three months.”
Since Friday, President Trump has tweeted about the coronavirus twice, thanking Chinese President Xi Jinping for “[China’s] efforts and transparency.”
“We are in very close communication with China concerning the virus. Very few cases reported in USA, but strongly on watch,” he tweeted Monday.