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Newly FDA-approved COVID-19 test developed at WashU is 'major development'

Governor Mike Parson was in St. Louis Thursday to discuss the saliva-based test, which can expand testing

ST. LOUIS — A new COVID-19 test developed by researchers at Washington University and recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will help improve testing capabilities, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said during a visit to St. Louis Thursday.

"This new saliva test is a major development," Parson said during a press conference. 

Researchers said it will allow for rapid testing of large numbers of people. This testing technology would help the St. Louis area, regional businesses and ultimately the entire state of Missouri.

"This highly-accurate test will greatly expand testing capabilities within St. Louis and Missouri,” said Jeffrey Milbrandt, MD, PhD, James S. McDonnell professor and head of the Department of Genetics and the McDonnell Genome Institute. “This will allow us to help to return to school and work safely and help us identifying outbreaks in their early stage."

Millbrandt added because the test is quick and simple, it will not be limited by supply chain issues.

"We need a test we can get an answer on quickly so the person who comes back positive can alter their behavior," said Sen. Roy Blunt, who was also at the press conference.

READ MORE: FDA approves new saliva-based COVID-19 test developed at Wash U

WashU expects to perform tens of thousands of these tests each week. A portion of the testing technology might be allocated to people in nursing homes and retirement communities who are more vulnerable to infection.

Millbrandt said the saliva test can also be altered in the future to test other viruses.

A series of COVID-19 vaccine trials are also being conducted at Washington University.

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