San Diego company's COVID-19 test gets emergency approval

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 21:04:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- A San Diego-based genetics company received the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization for its revolutionary type of COVID-19 testing. The new test not only provides a positive or negative reading, but it also provides vital genetic information that can help create a vaccine.

From concept to the FDA's emergency use authorization, the San Diego-based team at Illumina worked at warp speed.

"The idea came 58 days ago," Susan Tousi, Sr. VP. of Production and Development at Illumina said. "It took a village of all of us in San Diego to make that happen."

There are already many different types of COVID-19 tests on the market.

But the scientists and engineers at Illumina came up with a test that reveals a lot more.

"Our test not only gives you a yes or no answer for the presence of the virus, but it also gives you the genetic sequence of the virus," Tousi said.

On Tuesday, the FDA approved the Emergency use of the world's first COVID-19 test that also shows the biological makeup of the virus.

The results can help researchers track and trace the virus and study different mutations over time and in different regions.

"Knowing this is really critical, not only to the development of effective vaccines but also for us to detect its presence, recurrence, and whether there is a mutated form that we need to be prepared for," Tousi said.

The sample is collected via nose or throat swab and sent to the lab.

A sequencing machine can run up 43,000 samples a week. From swab to results, it takes only 24 hours.

"This was the culmination of an incredible amount of work. And I'm confident we're going to make a big difference in the fight against COVID," Tousi said. "The understanding of this virus at the genetic level is going to make all of the difference in the world in fighting this and future disease."

The company has already started to ship its tests to large labs across the world.