March 22, 2020 at 12:54 AM EDT – Updated March 22 at 1:07 AM
(CNN/AP) – The first rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It can detect the virus in approximately 45 minutes.
California-based Cepheid, which makes the test, says it can start shipping next week.
Clinicians say faster testing will help alleviate some of the pressure on hospital resources. The new test is a significant advancement because some patients have complained it took them days to get results.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Saturday in a White House press briefing that “not every single person in the U.S. needs to get tested.”
“When you go in and get tested, you are consuming personal protective equipment, masks and gowns. Those are high priority for the health care workers who are taking care of people who have coronavirus disease,” Fauci said.
Health officials in New York City and Los Angeles are now recommending doctors avoid testing patients, except in cases where the results would significantly change treatment.
Efforts to tally U.S. testing numbers have been stymied by the fragmented nature of the country’s health system, involving federal, state and local efforts and the private sector.
This week, members of Trump’s coronavirus task force gave the most comprehensive figures on testing yet. Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that about 195,000 people in the U.S. have been screened for the virus, a number that does not include additional tests from county hospitals or health care labs.
Most U.S. labs can process fewer than 100 patient samples per day. Last week, the FDA approved the first coronavirus tests for “high-volume” laboratory systems, which are capable of processing thousands per day. That’s expected to quickly increase U.S. testing capacity.
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