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WASHINGTON: Francis Collins, Director of the US National Institutes for Health (NIH) has said that long delays in getting COVID-19 test results across America was undercutting their usefulness. “The average test delay is too long,” Xinhua news agency quoted Collins as saying in an interview with NBC News on Sunday.

“And that really undercuts the value of the testing, because you do the testing to find out who’s carrying the virus and then quickly get them isolated so they don’t spread it around.” Collins said the US government must invest in new technologies in order to keep up with the testing demand.

“We need to do things that are more on the spot,” Collins said. “There’s a number of new technologies that are coming along that look very promising in that space.

“We need to invest a lot of money, and the government is willing to do so, in scaling those up,” the NIH Director added. Collins’ remarks came a day after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Quest Diagnostics that allows pool samples from up to four individuals to test for COVID-19.

The Quest test is the first COVID-19 diagnostic test to be authorized for use with pooled samples. “This EUA for sample pooling is an important step forward in getting more COVID-19 tests to more Americans more quickly while preserving testing supplies,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

As of Monday, the US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 3,768,055 and 140,500, respectively.