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Industry News: Beckman Coulter offers $4/high-throughput antigen test to support U.S. government initiative to expand COVID-19 testing

The company is set to support the $12 billion expansion in COVID-19 testing as vaccinations increase

25 Mar 2021

Beckman Coulter, a clinical diagnostics leader, has announced its commitment to support the U.S. government’s plan to invest more than $12 billion to expand COVID-19 testing with its high-throughput, high-quality lab antigen test, Access SARS-CoV-2 Ag, ideal for mass screening testing.

Beckman Coulter announced in December that its $4 antigen test will be available to all customers and has a confirmed 93% positive predictive agreement (PPA) and 100% negative predictive agreement (NPA). Results can be delivered in as little as 30 minutes on Beckman Coulter’s immunoassay analyzers, including the DxI 800 high-throughput analyzer that can process up to 200 samples every 60 minutes.

“We support the U.S. government’s goal to expand screening because this is the right way to open up our schools, our economy and get people back to work in tandem with the massive vaccination drive that is underway,” said Julie Sawyer Montgomery, president of Beckman Coulter Diagnostics. “The key to saving lives while vaccines are being put into arms is still masking, social distancing, regular testing, tracing and isolation. Our antigen assay makes the regular testing part of this equation a reality by enabling institutions and communities to implement low-cost, frequent, mass COVID-19 testing with automation, ease of handling and speed to enable scalability.”

Beckman Coulter’s antigen test can be used for testing in high-risk settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, universities and other group settings where repeat testing, coupled with relevant clinical information, could identify those with a SARS-CoV-2 infection to minimize transmission.

“We are offering our solution at $4 per test because it’s only with affordable and regular testing that we can address disparities and promote equity in COVID-19 testing, which is vital to address COVID-19-related health gaps and advance health equity among high-risk and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas,” said Shamiram R. Feinglass, M.D., MPH, chief medical officer for Beckman Coulter.

While point of care (POC) antigen tests have a purpose in diagnosing COVID-19, they are difficult and resource intensive to scale to address high-volume testing needs. Beckman Coulter’s $4 SARS-CoV-2 antigen test makes large-scale, serial testing programs feasible and affordable.

“A point of care test that delivers a result in 15 minutes for a single individual cannot perform as efficiently when it’s asked to deliver results for hundreds or thousands of people; the workflow breaks down with too many manual handling steps in the process,” said Dr. Feinglass. “Furthermore, a hospital is compelled to report positive results to the regulatory bodies, and some point of care tests require cumbersome manual recording of patient data into their EMR.”

Ideal for implementing as part of a large-scale community, workplace or school screening program, Access SARS CoV-2 Antigen test samples are collected with a nasopharyngeal or nasal swab and can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours and 48 hours refrigerated (2-8 degrees Celsius) with one freeze/thaw cycle.

The assay also provides ultimate flexibility in scaling to address the needs of small or low volume to moderately-sized laboratories that operate a desktop analyzer, to large laboratories with automated, high-throughput analyzers for mass testing. Whether on a desktop with an Access 2 or on a high-throughput analyzer like the DxI 800, results are immediately delivered electronically to physicians, patient portals and health agencies, allowing clinicians to initiate proper treatment quickly, isolate patients, and start tracing, helping to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

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