Coronavirus Testing Kits Start Shipping

February 7, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced yesterday that it has begun to ship its 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) laboratory test kit to select qualified U.S. and international laboratories. The tests are being shipped through the International Reagent Resource (IRR), which was established by the CDC.

The test kit, called the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel (CDC 2019-nCoV Real Time RT-PCR), is designed for use with an existing RT-PCR testing instrument that is commonly used to test for seasonal influenza.

The CDC says the novel coronavirus test is intended for use with upper and lower respiratory specimens collected from people who meet CDC criteria for 2019-nCoV testing. The test uses a technology that can provide results in four hours from initial sample processing to result.

Initially, about 200 test kits will be distributed to U.S. domestic laboratories and a similar amount will be distributed to select international laboratories. Each test kit can test approximately 700 to 800 patient specimens. Additional test kits will be produced and made available for ordering in the future from the IRR. At this time, each laboratory that places an order will receive one 2019-nCoV test kit.

The IRR is accepting orders for 2019-nCoV tests from qualified laboratories. This includes 115 qualified U.S. laboratories, such as state and local public health laboratories and Department of Defense laboratories, as well as 191 qualified international laboratories.

Today, the CDC released its weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, focusing on “Persons Evaluated for 2019 Novel Coronavirus — United States, January 2020.”