Stanford Health Care has developed a new test for the COVID-19 disease and is now using it to verify suspected cases of the illness at its hospitals. The announcement of the new test comes as Stanford University disclosed on Thursday that it is treating a "few" patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The test is being used for patients at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford who are suspected of being infected with the respiratory virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 disease originated in Wuhan, China, which as of Thursday has infected 95,333 patients and killed 3,282 around the world, according to the World Health Organization. As of Thursday, 20 cases have been reported in Santa Clara County.
The new test, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is different from the test being distributed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latter is used by county public health departments where samples from patients suspected of having the illness are taken and analyzed. The Stanford test, which was developed by the Stanford Health Care Clinical Virology Laboratory, is being used as an in-house diagnostic test that can rapidly identify people with the illness. It is expected to deliver results within 12 to 24 hours, according to a press release by Stanford Medicine.
Clinical virologist Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, associate professor of pathology and infectious diseases at the Stanford School of Medicine, and his team began working on the test in late January. They spent February validating and confirming their test results.
"The test successfully identified the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in positive samples without cross-reacting with the seasonal coronaviruses or other common respiratory viruses, including influenza," Pinsky said in the press release.
Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatric and infections diseases at the Stanford School of Medicine, said in a phone interview on Thursday that the new test "is a fabulous test," but it is not being offered to everyone who wants it at this time. Staff will determine who needs to undergo the test, she said.
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