March 14, 2020 / 1:22 AM / 16 days ago

U.S. FDA approves Thermo Fisher's coronavirus test: official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday approved Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc’s coronavirus test, which would allow the firm to increase capacity to 1.4 million tests a week, a Trump administration official said.

“This will dramatically increase our ability to test people for the virus,” the official said. It was not immediately clear if capacity referred to test kit production or processing of tests performed on individual patients.

The move comes as the Trump administration struggles to meet demand for testing. The FDA has already approved emergency authorization for a faster coronavirus test made by Swiss diagnostics maker Roche.

Trump has blamed his administration’s lag in testing for the virus on rules and regulations inherited from the previous administration.

In a news conference held in the White House Rose Garden earlier on Friday, he said the federal government was partnering with the private sector to ramp up test kit production to make them more widely available to Americans.

He said there would be about 5 million coronavirus test kits available soon, but he doubted the full amount would be necessary and urged Americans to only seek testing if they were exhibiting certain symptoms.

“We don’t want people to take a test if we feel that they shouldn’t be doing it and we don’t want everyone running out and taking - only if you have certain symptoms,” he said.

(This story removes typo in headline)

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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