The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the launch of a pilot program for fast molecular point-of-care (POC) testing for the COVID-19 pandemic that will be deployed in five U.S. states – Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas – using test kits made by Cue Health Inc., of San Diego. HHS noted that the Cue test was used successfully by the National Basketball Association, and that the test returns results in 20 minutes. The pilot is part of a $481 million contract with Cue awarded in October, which calls on the company to ratchet up production to 100,000 test kits per day by March 2021. As part of this pilot program, HHS has distributed a total of 600 cartridge readers and 27,000 kits to the five states in the pilot, including 9,000 kits and 200 readers to Alaska, which received the largest share due to the difficulty of access to non-POC testing in the state. Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said the Cue system “will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to our testing ecosystem,” adding that access to a highly specific and sensitive POC test “could dramatically improve infection control at nursing homes and other institutional settings especially.”

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