In a news release, the agency said the action would allow certain National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved respirators, which are not now regulated by the FDA, to be used in a health care setting by health care personnel, thereby maximizing the number of respirators available to meet the needs of the US health care system.
"The FDA, alongside the CDC and other federal, state and local partners, have been aggressively addressing the COVID-19 outbreak", said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.
On Sunday, the website showed the total number of people tested in the United States, according to an archive of the page from Wayback Machine. Some public health experts warn that the current number of cases in the USA may be low simply because too few people have been tested; with more testing, the count in the country will likely rise. After it changed the criteria by the end of February, the confirmed cases in the country kept increasing.
Government agencies can activate Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) review processes during extenuating circumstances such as an emerging disease outbreak.
Doctors nationwide complained of a bottleneck, both because of the restrictive test criteria and because of the agency's limited testing capacity.
They said respirators provide no added health benefit to the general public because the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. We are committed to working with stakeholders across the supply chain in close collaboration with public health and government partners to help enable access to critical medical products.
"We will also have to have capacity for isolating those individuals", Hotez told Al Jazeera.
As testing becomes more accessible, it's likely the tests will find infections around the country - including cases that have gone undetected for a while. Experts outside the Trump administration, however, say that's not likely.
There are several reasons why testing isn't so widespread in the United States yet.
"One implication of the delay in testing is not knowing who is contagious if they are asymptomatic or can't distinguish their symptoms from a regular cough or cold", said Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of Global Business at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
That set the USA back several weeks, and public health officials lost a crucial window to contain the virus and prevent it from getting a foothold in the United States.
Another challenge in rolling out testing has to do with the test itself.
How many tests are available?
With wider testing, even more cases of coronavirus are bound to be reported in the US. It got off to a bumpy start.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Sunday that it is investigating a manufacturing defect in some initial coronavirus test kits that prompted some states to seek emergency approval to use their own test kits.
The problem was blamed on one of three chemical reagents used in the testing, and the CDC moved to fix the problem.
The Oklahoma Health Department said it has received new testing kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and is training to use them and testing their viability.
The FDA and CDC said they're not aware of specific widespread shortages of personal protective equipment at the moment, but said there are reports of increased ordering of these products and shortages have occurred in some USA health care institutions.
Meanwhile, state and health officials maintain there is no need to panic. That way, the national capacity for lab testing could scale up more rapidly. Do you get tested at a hospital? Nobody can screw it up. Over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence made similar claims, appearing on television to say that more than 15,000 test kits - which contain materials to test between 700 to 800 samples - were being shipped to labs. The Company's technology is utilized for tests that are designed using the detection and/or analysis of nucleic acid molecules (DNA or RNA).
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