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How rapid testing will help in the fight against COVID-19

Posted at 4:49 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 18:49:49-04

You may have had a COVID-19 test and then had to wait, often days, for the results. The wait time can be excruciating, and health officials say it can be detrimental when it comes to controlling further spread of COVID-19.

But one insurance company has a unique approach to help bring about more rapid testing options

Dr. Amy Khan, executive medical director with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says, "for disease control, knowing if you're infected so you can isolate is so important." Dr. Khan says that's why there is an urgent need for more rapid COVID-19 testing.

"Identifying COVID-19 cases quickly really helps with clinical management. But in addition we can identify outbreaks early, so we can put in place those critical public health interventions to control the spread in a community, across the school or in a workplace," says Khan.

Regence's parent company, Cambia Health Solutions, along with others like Google and Amazon are backing a competition offering a five million dollar prize.

Frequent. Fast. Cheap. Easy. That's what the XPRIZE is looking for. With a 5 million dollar prize at stake, they're hoping the best and brightest come forward to share their ideas. Dr. Khan says they're hoping the competition will help to, "...identify those vendors who could provide reliable tests with quicker turnaround times, that can be conveniently administered and that are affordable."

Dr. Khan applauds state leaders for increasing test capacities in Utah, but says demand will only continue to grow, especially as we enter the fall and winter months. "As we are coming up to flu season, being able to distinguish quickly, is this influenza or COVID-19, will be essential in terms of how we move forward."

Sponsors of the contest believe that competition breeds innovation. And even Dr. Khan says that rapid tests will likely be available to the public in the months and weeks to come because of it.

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