The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has formally approved the use of 500,000 coronavirus tests purchased by the state of Maryland from a South Korean company.
The FDA’s chief scientist gave the emergency approval to the South Korean firm LabGenomics Co in a letter Wednesday, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced April 20 that the state made the $9 million purchase in an effort to boost its testing capacity. Adequate testing is a building block on the road to recovery from the global pandemic and reopening businesses, he said.
But in the nearly two weeks since Hogan’s announcement, some local officials, nursing homes and others looking for the tests have questioned when they will receive them, The Sun said. The governor stated during a State House news conference that the tests also needed other in-demand supplies such as swabs and lab capacity.
Spokesman Mike Ricci said Thursday that Maryland was increasing its supply of such materials. He said the state was set to receive about 34,000 swabs from a national stockpile and had an “adequate supply” of reagent, a mixture used for chemical analysis in the testing.
He added that LabGenomics was given preliminary approval to use the tests last week and some have been since been deployed to “high-priority hot spots” including nursing homes, drive-thru sites and a testing site for poultry plant workers in Salisbury.
Hogan on Wednesday ordered universal testing for all residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.