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Coronavirus Screening Test Developed by Johns Hopkins Microbiologists

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Mar 2020
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Image: Coronavirus screening test developed by Johns Hopkins microbiologists (Photo courtesy of John Hopkins University)
Image: Coronavirus screening test developed by Johns Hopkins microbiologists (Photo courtesy of John Hopkins University)
A team of clinical microbiologists from John Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) have developed an in-house coronavirus screening test that could allow the health system to test about 1,000 people daily. The test would help people to quickly learn if they are infected with COVID-19 and also allow doctors to test people with whom such patients have come in contact.

The test, which analyzes a nasal or oral swab, was used for the first time on March 11 by the microbiologists who performed around 85 tests during the first three days. The team expects to quickly ramp up capacity and test 180 people per day next week and 500 people in the week after that to reach 1,000 tests per day by early April. Currently, the test delivers results in about 24 hours, which the doctors hope to shorten to three hours.

“We will be able to diagnose more cases. This will allow the control of exposure,” said Heba Mostafa, M.B.B.Ch., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and director of the molecular virology laboratory at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“Testing is very important in terms of identifying cases so epidemiologists can then contact people exposed to individuals who are known to be positive and make recommendations about home isolation and further follow-up,” added Karen Carroll, M.D., professor of pathology and director of the Division of Medical Microbiology at Johns Hopkins.

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