Odishatv Bureau

Washington: US Food and Drug Agency approved the first "at-home test" for diagnosing COVID-19, said Dr. Stephen Hahn, who heads the agency.

He said the president tasked him with cutting down "as many barriers as we possibly could to get products into the medical community", the BBC reported.

"We have done that, of course recognising the urgency of the situation," Dr. Hahn says.

"This is a test where, under certain circumstances with a doctor's supervision, a test can be mailed to a patient, and the patient can perform the self-swab and mail it back and get the results."

He says the agency has approved 63 tests thus far, and is currently working with over 400 test developers to authorise their products.

When asked about antibody tests - which determine if someone has already had the virus and may be immune - Dr. Hahn says they have authorised four and "more are in the pipeline".

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The lack of testing has been a key issue with the country's COVID-19 response. Governors across the nation have been requesting more tests in recent weeks, and initial tests put forth by the Centers for Disease Control were inaccurate.

Existing drug administration regulations also made it harder at the onset for hospital laboratories across the country to develop new diagnostic tests.

On the other hand, the United States accounts for more than one-fourth of the global COVID-19 deaths and over one-third of the total number of people infected with the deadly virus, latest figures revealed on Friday.

The coronavirus pandemic that started from Wuhan City in China in November, 2019 has so far killed more than 195,000 people across the world and infected more than 27 lakh.

The United States, which has been the worst hit by coronavirus alone accounts the highest number so far; wherein more than 9.2 lakh Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and the fatalities count on Friday stood at 51,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In fact, the number of COVID-19 cases in the US is more than the next six countries taken together: Spain (219,764), Italy (192,994), France (159,495), Germany (154,545), United Kingdom (144,635) and Turkey (104,912).

Despite accounting for the largest number of fatalities, the death rate, however, in the US is much lower than other countries, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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So far, 51,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in US, followed by Italy (25,969), Spain (22,524), France (22,245), and United Kingdom (19,506).

In the United States, New York accounts for the largest number of fatalities (17,671) with 271,890 confirmed cases.

However, the US seems to be past its peak.

(With agency inputs)