Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, believes a new rapid antigen test that can be administered in doctors' offices could be key in stopping the spread of the. The tests, developed by a company in California, were granted by the FDA on Saturday.
"I think this kind of technology is a real game changer," Gottlieb told "Face the Nation" on Sunday. Gottlieb said it was a "very rapid test that can be used in a doctor's office," requiring a simple nasal swab and delivering results within five minutes with 85% accuracy. The tests detect fragments of viral proteins, as opposed to its genetic material.
"They allow you to dramatically expand testing. And they're very cheap. They're very easy to perform. And again, most doctors have these machines already in their offices. They're using them for strep throat and flu," Gottlieb said. "The challenge is going to be what the guidance is from the CDC and public health agencies about how doctors test in their offices."
Gottlieb also reacted to President Trump's comments this week questioning the effectiveness of regular tests. An aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the virus this week, and Mr. Trump noted that she had previously tested negative for the virus.
"I think testing has value in a workplace, especially when you're dealing with places where there's people who are at higher risk of getting infected," Gottlieb said. He said that the Abbott machine, which is used in the White House, was not as accurate as other tests and could offer false negatives.
"This is why we need to have testing out in the community. This is why we need very accurate tests if we're going to be testing asymptomatic people," Gottlieb continued.
Gottlieb also said that the administration needed a "better system" for rolling out treatment for the coronavirus using remdesivir, a drug which was recently granted emergency FDA authorization.
"I think we need to get a better system in place. If the government is going to take control of the supply of these therapeutics ... they need to have a good system in place for allocation," Gottlieb said. "So hopefully, when they start to contemplate the next therapeutic, and there will be more therapeutics in the fall, or a vaccine and how they allocate that, they're going to have a better system in place based on clinical need."