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Stanford creates new coronavirus test that produces fast results

Diagnostic test for COVID-19 could offer results in 12 to 24 hours

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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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Comments

12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 6, 2020 at 12:03 pm

These tests are only useful if they can be administered to large numbers of people efficiently and cheaply. Is Stanford working with insurance companies to make sure people can afford the testing?


3 people like this
Posted by Joe Fantuzzi
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm

This reads like a press release, not news. 12-24 hour tests have been available in public and private domain for a week.


6 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2020 at 12:46 pm

If someone could come up with something that would give people clearance to fly and to see people who are most vulnerable (like elderly, sick parents in distance places), it would be a huge help. Students are getting their college acceptances and those who could not afford to visit until they saw acceptances are at a disadvantage. It would help a lot to board a flight knowing everyone had been tested and that you can be tested before you go see an elderly loved one.

Please, how soon could that be developed? It would help immensely in allowing us to restore more normal activity. Perhaps if the results were combined with surveillance, it could do a lot for helping the CDC understand what is and isn't happening in the community.


11 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 6, 2020 at 12:48 pm

Here is is - Mike Pence announced that coronavirus testing is covered for free by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance plans, including Obamacare. The Trump administration is "considering" paying for testing uninsured people. For now, they have to cross their fingers. NBC News report: Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 6, 2020 at 2:46 pm

[Post removed; off topic.]


9 people like this
Posted by Mitigate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2020 at 3:28 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by The Underlying Cause
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Macbaldy
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2020 at 5:04 pm

[Post removed; off topic.]


2 people like this
Posted by Mitigate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2020 at 5:42 pm

[Post removed; off topic.]


25 people like this
Posted by Jane Doe
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 6, 2020 at 5:47 pm

Meanwhile, European countries, with single payer health care have been running thousands of test per day every day for many days already. So much for the exceptional medical system in the US!


2 people like this
Posted by Midlander
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2020 at 4:41 am

As I understand it, the current tests look for the virus's DNA in swabs from people's throat and upper respiratory system. This is Really Useful, but will only show a result where the disease is reasonably far along. If someone is infected but isn't yet showing symptoms, then unfortunately the test may well come in blank as the virus isn't yet coming out in volume in the throat, etc. The tests are finicky, so there will also be a certain number of false positives, where the test reports a problem but the patient is actually OK.

Antibody tests are also under development. These will test people's blood to show if their immune system has defended against the virus. Again, this Really Useful, but it will typically only show a result after the patient has largely fought off the disease. So it won't be useful in early diagnosis.

Just to be clear, I believe both these tests are important and Really Useful. But they aren't a magic bullet in detecting the disease in its early stages. People can pass both tests but already be infected.

Right now, when there is a limited supply of test kits, given that the tests aren't effective in the early stages, it may make sense to save the kits for people who are actually showing symptoms.


5 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:04 am

@Midlander
People can be infected and contagious for so long with this pathogen before being symptomatic, that just seems like a reactive strategy that will do little to nothing.

Given that there is a theoretical window to stop the virus from becoming endemic (globally), we should be ramping up testing and test development like people’s lives and our national economy depend on it. I as agree with @parent that testing works best if done early and often. If the tests don’t catch it then the tests need to be improved, fast.

I would love to see a combination of testing and mandates for more distance between airline seats to make the air travel industry function again


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:14 pm

Community transmission is becoming more common; soon you can test negative and be exposed while leaving the doctor’s office. Testing will soon be of minimal value.

Can you report on progress for vaccines? Any info on Gilead’s testing in China? Any other development?


Like this comment
Posted by Biochemist
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:25 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by D j Welsh
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 11, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Are you still at risk of complications from Coronavirus if your underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are controlled by drugs ?


Like this comment
Posted by Jano
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 20, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Until we have an Antibody test that show if people's immune system has defended against the virus, it is important to test as much people as possible, because then we will know who is imune and can be back to normal activities that will save lifes and will put the economy working again.
Otherwise, the best individual strategy, if you are young and healthy, is to get I'll as soon as possible, get tested and go back to work.


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