COVID-19 Updates: High-Volume Antigen Test Gets EUA, Contactless Checkpoints, and the Post-Pandemic Future

Scientists wearing full protective suit working in COVID-19 test labMore than 95 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed worldwide as of Monday evening, including at least 2 million deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported more than 24 million positive COVID-19 cases and nearly 400,000 deaths. Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

High-Volume Antigen Test Gets FDA’s First EUA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the first time to a widely available high-volume COVID-19 antigen test. According to officials with Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a global in vitro diagnostics company, the VITROS® SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test is designed to detect active infection for mass-scale testing and same-day results. The test can run up to 130 results per hour.

“With an urgent need for the U.S. to increase its coronavirus testing capacity by nearly tenfold, according to some estimates, Ortho’s test can help labs address many of the significant testing challenges the country is facing,” said Michael Iskra, executive vice president of commercial excellence and strategy at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. “Ortho maintains more than 1,500 analyzers across the U.S.—including more than 500 located in rural regions that need it more urgently than ever.”

These analyzers normally run a broad menu of more than 150 different tests from blood and body fluid samples, but now are also able to run samples derived from swabs. Additional analyzers are available for shipment and can be installed rapidly to further increase capacity since they don’t require an external water source to operate, officials said.

The test is an alternative to real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which although highly sensitive, can be expensive and require long processing times during testing surges. Other COVID-19 diagnostic testing platforms, including rapid antigen tests, have limited capacity to run multiple tests simultaneously or require short time windows to read results, making it challenging to test more than a handful of patients at a time, officials said. Ortho is currently able to deliver 5 million tests per month and can scale up to 15 million tests per month in February.

The test is the latest addition to the company’s COVID-19 solutions, which include two COVID-19 antibody tests, both of which have FDA’s EUA. Because Ortho’s VITROS Systems are already installed worldwide, reporting times may be further improved because lab staff require no additional training, and the instruments are already connected to existing laboratory information systems and software. These systems are self-contained and do not require an external water source to run, officials said.

“As the pandemic continues to devastate our communities and economy, laboratory professionals have been working under extraordinary circumstances to deliver critical COVID-19 testing data to patients, clinicians, and communities,” said Chris Smith, chairman and chief executive officer at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. “Even as vaccine inoculation programs roll out, mass-scale testing remains an essential tool in fighting COVID-19. Ortho’s accurate, high-volume COVID-19 antigen test can play a pivotal role in the global response to this virus.”

Technology Company Launches Contactless Checkpoint to Support Business and Consumer Safety

MULTIMEDIA Care, a technology solutions company based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, has launched Health Checkpoint, a tool for wellness screening that integrates what officials say are five key assessment areas that help to promote safe business practices and well-being for all stakeholders.

Health Checkpoint is making its way to various entities across the country, from hospitality, to retail, education, manufacturing, and other industries, according to officials.

The five areas of focus that are addressed by security features upon entrance to any facility include:

  • Masks
  • Temperature
  • Hand sanitization
  • Shoe matting
  • Smartphone QR security

In addition to these safety measures, the MULTIMEDIA Health Checkpoint can function as an information center, offering promotional opportunities to consumer companies, delivering a solution for contactless communication that can easily be deployed at a building entrance or interior checkpoint, officials said.

Each Health Checkpoint is customizable to fit the organization.

“At the end of the day, adapting to the “new normal” in the 2020 landscape varies greatly for all individuals and organizations,” said Federico Bausone, chief executive officer. “It is our goal at MULTIMEDIA Care to support business longevity as well as consumer well-being, ensuring safety and security remains at the core of all re-opening efforts.”

“The Health Checkpoint introduces the latest in healthcare innovation, allowing all stakeholders to navigate through the COVID-19 global pandemic with as much ease as possible.”

Wolters Kluwer Identifies “5 Forces” of Post-Pandemic Future

In an effort to assist healthcare systems weaknesses exposed by the current pandemic and to encourage health administrators to “reinvent” the healthcare ecosystem through innovation, officials at Wolters Kluwer, the Netherlands have identified a series of “5 Forces For Reimagining the Future of Healthcare.”

Each series component includes reports that consist of statistics, expert quotes, and practical takeaways in the areas of:

  • Virtual care reaching the vulnerable
  • Transparency and trust
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Preparing for a transformed healthcare workforce
  • Accurate and actionable data across care settings becomes the currency of the new health ecosystem.

Key concepts within the series include insights on scaling telehealth for long-term success and new patient engagement strategies; emerging evidence and research to aid clinicians; AI clinical surveillance that combines powerful technology with prevention, diagnosis, and treatment expertise; the expansion of workforce roles; and enabling data connectivity beyond health record interoperability to reach beyond traditional patient settings to digital devices, wearables, and more.

A summary of the series offered by Jean-Claude Saghbini, chief technology officer at Wolters Kluwer, can be found online at wolterskluwer.com.

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