FDA has granted Verily Lifesciences emergency use authorization for pooled testing of COVID-19. The EUA is the latest part of a multi-faceted strategy the South San Francisco, CA-based company has employed in the war against the novel coronavirus.
Verily said the pooling refers to the process of combining multiple samples into a single test, which results in the conservation of reagents.
When the expected rate of positive detection is low (i.e. the likelihood that an individual in the pool is infected is less than 10%), the pooling method requires ¼ to ½ the number of tests as standard PCR tests.
Verily said its investigations have determined that pooling is an effective model for testing that can efficiently scale with increasing demand without compromising performance.
In a blog entry, Verily said, “We have published a series of white papers that touch on a variety of topics related to the identification of COVID-19 infection, including explanations of Verily's high sensitivity and pooled COVID-19 testing approaches.”
The Alphabet Company and former life sciences arm of Google launched the Baseline COVID-19 Research Project earlier this year to get a better understanding of the virus. Verily said its initial focus would be on serology testing.
And last month, Verily began a CLIA Lab for COVID-19 testing in its journey to facilitate solutions for the virus.
The firm said the lab is being used by customers of Verily's Healthy at Work program, including Waymo and other customers near Verily's South San Francisco campus, and will continue to be an integral part of its COVID-19 initiatives.
Verily’s sibling company Google has been hard on the grind in its COVID-19 efforts. In May Google announced that - along with its rival Apple – launched the Exposure Notification technology which can inform someone if they may have come in contact with a person that was diagnosed with COVID-19.
However, the joint effort has been met with criticism specifically over both companies’ privacy rules surrounding the technology. Health officials have said the software won’t be useful because while it will notify smartphone users if they’ve come into contact with an infected person, it won’t share those locations.