BD, Quidel COVID-19 antigen test supplies strained amid high demand

Physicians, nursing homes and federal officials are struggling to get testing supplies for rapid response COVID-19 antigen tests from the two companies that have received FDA authorization to make them, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Antigen tests are in high demand because they offer faster results than most other diagnostic tests because they don’t need to be sent to labs for processing. They work by searching for virus proteins instead of the virus’ genetic material. 

Antigen tests can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes and machines can process dozens of samples per hour. 

Quidel and Becton Dickinson & Co., are the only two companies that have received FDA authorization to supply the antigen tests. They also make the machines used to process the tests, the Journal reported. 

Quidel is struggling to make enough of the machines that analyze the tests,while BD is struggling to make enough tests, the companies said. 

Both companies are working to ramp up production, but have had trouble sourcing swabs and finding additional capacity at their manufacturing plants, according to the Journal

Quidel told the Journal it currently makes about 2,000 machines a month and can make up to 1.8 million tests per week if it’s able to secure the supplies it needs. 

BD told the Journal it has enough machines to meet demand but is facing a shortage of testing kits. 

Katie Schafer, DO, a pediatrician at Bloom Pediatrics in Birmingham, Mich., told the Journal she ordered 1,000 antigen tests from BD last month and has only received 120 so far.

Public health officials have raised concerns that antigen tests deliver more false negatives than other tests, but federal officials said as the tests become more widespread, they appear equal in sensitivity to the most commonly used type of diagnostic test, the Journal reported. 

Read the full article here.

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