The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) halted SCAN, a coronavirus testing project that billionaire Bill Gates praised.
According to Fox Business, the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) uses home-based, self-collected samples. In a statement, SCAN explains that “there are no issues or concerns with the safety and accuracy of SCAN’s test.”
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The Washington State Department of Health has authorized SCAN’s tests. “However, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently clarified its guidance for home-based, self-collected samples to test for COVID-19. We have been notified that a separate federal emergency use authorization (EUA) is required to return results for self-collected tests,” read the statement.
“The FDA has not raised any concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of SCAN’s test,” it also said. However, the program had to pause testing until they “receive that additional authorization.”
An FDA spokesperson said that the agency is supportive of at-home testing for COVID-19. However, they only support it “provided there is data and science to support consumer safety and test accuracy,” according to the representative. The spokesperson added that they thought SCAN operates as a surveillance study. Fox Business explains that a surveillance study doesn’t involve informing patients of results.
Praises from Bill Gates
Gates said in a blog post that he was “excited” about SCAN.
“I’m excited about a new disease surveillance program in the Seattle area to detect cases of COVID-19 and help guide public health responses,” Gates also wrote. The program will “help improve our understanding of the outbreak in Seattle,” according to the billionaire. “It will also provide valuable information about the virus for other communities around the world,” he said.
Gates also clarified that SCAN does not replace the widespread testing that communities need. However, “it has the potential to become an important tool for health officials seeking insights about the spread and behavior of the virus,” he wrote before the study was put on hold.