March 9, 2020 / 5:35 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-Hologic gets U.S. funding for coronavirus test kit

(Adds details on virus testing)

March 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Monday it will provide financial aid to Hologic Inc to develop a coronavirus diagnostic kit that would be able to process up to 1,000 tests in 24 hours.

The molecular diagnostic test, which is expected to be ready in the coming weeks, would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consider allowing labs to use it under the Emergency Use Authorization, according to the health department.

Hologic's test for the coronavirus is the first to clear the streamlined selection process of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which will contribute $699,000 towards its development.

Last week, Laboratory Corp of America Holdings, Quest Diagnostics Inc and OPKO Health Inc said they would be able to begin testing for the virus.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said on Monday the agency had received reports of more than 500 coronavirus cases until last evening and that it expects the bulk of testing in the country to be done by commercial labs.

The delay in expanding the local testing has been criticized as an early misstep in the government's response to the outbreak, which has killed 19 people in the United States as of Monday. (Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Arun Koyyur)

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