Cue Health's 'NBA Bubble' rapid COVID-19 test deployed to 5 states in HHS pilot program

A rapid, point-of-care coronavirus diagnostic test used by the NBA to screen players within the Bubble this year is being shipped to five states through a government pilot program under the Department of Health and Human Services.

The molecular test will help to confirm diagnoses in healthcare settings that include larger groups of people at high risk for COVID-19, such as in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care centers. It will also be provided to veterans’ homes and used internally by the Department of Defense.

HHS will work with the governors and state health departments of Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas to allocate tests to local and regional facilities, while Cue will provide onboarding and training support for healthcare workers.

“The deployment of Cue’s point-of-care COVID-19 Test will not only increase molecular testing capacity in critical locations but will also help protect the health of the most vulnerable populations by providing real-time results in about 20 minutes,” founder and CEO Ayub Khattak said.

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Authorized by the FDA in June, Cue’s hand-held test uses nasal swabs and a cartridge-based reader that delivers results to a connected smartphone. The molecular tests will help offer a more accurate complement to the first-line screening provided by rapid antigen tests, which HHS has shipped to nursing homes and other locations.

Due to its remote geography and large area, Alaska will initially receive 200 of the battery-powered readers and 9,000 test cartridges, while Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas will each receive 100 devices and 4,500 cartridges. The program expects to deploy tens of thousands of more tests in the coming weeks, according to HHS.

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Cue previously received a $481 million contract from the DOD to supply at least 6 million tests to the federal government into 2021, including 30,000 readers by next March. The award is slated to boost the company’s manufacturing capacity at its San Diego facilities, with the goal of producing 100,000 test kits per day.