OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Health expects a federal shipment of nearly 150,000 rapid coronavirus testing kits will arrive within five to 10 days, officials announced late Wednesday. By November, the state anticipates it will have received 2.3 million kits.
Right now, the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests are approved only for people exhibiting symptoms, but the state may later extend their use to include anyone who is exposed to a confirmed case. According to DOH, the tests are typically less accurate than standard molecular tests, and their effectiveness for people without symptoms has not undergone rigorous study. Interpreting the results can also be complex.
According to the Abbott website, the test involves taking a nasal swab and inserting it into a test card. Within minutes, results are available and can be stored on an optional app, which generates a new QR code for each test result.
Health officials plan to deploy the first batch to community health centers, tribal clinics and hospitals. Plans for where to distribute future shipments are still in progress.
“The first distribution of 149,000 kits, along with the benefit of rapid results, will increase access to diagnostic testing for Washingtonians, and particularly priority populations,” the Department of Health wrote. “That will help individuals with symptoms get quicker results and assist all of us in tracking the virus and stopping additional transmission and illness.”
The public will be able to view antigen test results via a weekly report from the Department of Health, tracked separately from PCR tests and antibody tests.
“The goal in publicly reporting antigen test results is to increase transparency not just into our process, but into COVID-19 activity statewide,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary of health. “People across the state need a line of sight into these results as these tests become more popular and accessible, so we can understand emerging trends.”
This article originally appeared on the Seattle Patch