Hackensack Meridian innovation center launches diagnostic tool to speed COVID-19 tests

The Center for Discovery and Innovation at Hackensack (N.J.) Meridian Health began using a tool on March 12 that combines elements of CDC and World Health Organization diagnostic tools to accelerate test results for COVID-19.

The rapid-response test reduces the amount of time between testing and diagnosis for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus from days to just a few hours, according to a March 12 news release. The health system expects to be able to test 24 patients every eight hours, and is actively seeking ways to expand the use of the technology throughout the region.

The test has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Health and received preliminary Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA to begin administering it right away.

"We believe our test could make the difference in stemming outbreaks," David Perlin, PhD, chief scientific officer and senior vice president of the CDI, said in the release. "It's fast and it's accurate, and crucial hours could mean the difference in stopping the spread of this virus."

The innovation center's experts began developing a test to speed triage of COVID-19 patients in mid-January. They were able to complete development after receiving samples of the live virus and viral RNA last week, according to Dr. Perlin.

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