coronavirus pandemic

New Coronavirus Test Gives Results in Minutes, Not Days

Like other COVID-19 tests, a new rapid test developed by Quidel starts with a swab sample. But this new rapid test is less invasive, and less uncomfortable.

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A new COVID-19 rapid test promises results before you leave the clinic, when you still may be contagious, not days later.

Law school graduate Whitney Williams was worried she might have been exposed to coronavirus by someone she encountered during the holiday.

She went to Culver City Urgent Care, one of the locations offering the faster test.

"I love 15 minutes," she said. "Waiting four to six days does not help."

Rapid blood testing for determining if a patient has antibodies has been available several months, but the tougher challenge is getting quick results when the person in infected and contagious.

Like other COVID-19 tests, a new rapid test developed by Quidel starts with a swab sample. But this new rapid test is less invasive, and less uncomfortable.

The sample needs to incubate for 15 minutes before it goes into a machine that requires 10 more seconds to process. People getting the test can socially distance on the lawn out front until they receive their results.

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"And when you get the results in 15 minutes, the provider is able to direct the patient's care, right away," said Dr. Morris Kokhab.

Dr. Kokhab was able to obtain the new testing system last week for 12 of his UrgentMED care clinics.

He said they offer more accurate results than the mainstay PCR test, missing fewer than 4% of cases.

"So out of 100 people that you test that do have the disease, 96.7% test positive," he said. "It's highly sensitive. It's highly specific."

No appointment is required at most urgent care facilities, but getting the quick result comes at a price: $125.

The rapid test is so new it is not yet covered by insurance. 

Also Tuesday, the Becton-Dickson company announced that its rapid COVID-19 test has received an emergency use authorization from the FDA, but there's no information on when the Becton-Dickinson test will be available.

For now Culver City Urgent care uses the Quidel test, and to meet demand, will stay open another four hours each night until midnight.

As for Williams, the recent law school grad was taking a break from studying for the bar exam, and was relieved to learn she won't need to quarantine. She tested negative.

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