Roche announced that it has begun shipping the first allotment of its cobas SARS-CoV-2 Test for COVID-19 (coronavirus) to a network of hospital and reference laboratories across the U.S. to enable automated, high-volume patient testing. Shipping of the initial 400,000 test kits began Friday, March 13, and will be completed this week. Roche plans to ship an additional 400,000 tests per week to the laboratory testing sites across the nation that are set up to run the test immediately under the guidelines of the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
“We are grateful to the FDA for accelerating the process to grant Emergency Use Authorization for this test,” Matt Sause, president and CEO of Roche Diagnostics North America, said in the news release. “We began shipping test kits immediately so labs could start to offer high-volume testing as soon as possible and give more patients access to reliable diagnostics. Together, we can help combat this serious disease.”
Under the EUA, the cobas SARS-CoV-2 Test is intended for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, in patients who meet COVID-19 clinical and/or epidemiological criteria for testing. The test uses nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab samples (taken from the back of the nose or throat).
The test kits are being sent to a network of more than 30 hospital and reference laboratories in the U.S. that already have the required instrumentation in place and have the ability to implement high-volume testing immediately. Roche consulted with government agencies to ensure that the test distribution prioritizes labs with the broadest geographic reach and highest patient impact. Healthcare providers across the entire U.S. can send patient samples to these laboratories for processing.
The labs run the test on Roche’s fully automated cobas 6800 and cobas 8800 Systems, which can process up to 384 results (cobas 6800 System) and 960 results (cobas 8800 System) in an 8-hour shift. After the lab starts the test, results are available in about three-and-a-half hours.
The test can only be ordered by a medical professional, so patients who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should go to their healthcare provider for evaluation.