Local company races to make antigen testing for coronavirus

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SAN DIEGO — Quidel Corporation in Sorrento Valley is manufacturing a new coronavirus test – which some health officials call “a game changer.”

Earlier this month, the FDA gave emergency authorization for coronavirus antigen testing developed by Quidel.

“It’s both stressful and exciting at the same time.” said Quidel CEO Doug Bryant.

Bryant said the company is working non-stop on manufacturing, and they are already shipping test kits to customers.

“We’ve manufactured last week around 200,000 tests. This week, we’re at about 240,000 tests. And then we’re going to steadily increase until about the week ending June 5, we should be right at a million tests a week,” said Bryant.

The antigen test can detect fragments of the coronavirus collected on nasal swabs. The big advantage of this test is the quick results — within 15 minutes. So it’s faster and it’s cheaper to make than the standard PCR testing, and it’s also easier to manufacture.

The disadvantage is it’s not as accurate as PCR testing, which takes much longer for results. With the antigen testing, there’s a higher chance of false negatives, but tests that come out positive are highly accurate.

“There’s real advantage in tests that can be made in very high quantities, but can also be used near the patient, near the employee and can be done rather quickly,” said Bryant.

Right now, Quidel is shipping the tests primarily to health care workers, first responders and the military.

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