Could new COVID testing be a game-changer?

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer gets an exclusive look at the front lines of the nation’s coronavirus testing efforts, and whether new rapid tests could change how the disease is tracked.
6:41 | 10/17/20

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Transcript for Could new COVID testing be a game-changer?
Switching gears now is a corona virus surges across the country tonight we have an exclusive look at the front lines of the nation's testing and surveillance effort. Where's our testing capacity standing who needs to get tested even once we have a vaccine and could soon all be able to test ourselves for Kobe quickly and affordably at home. Here's ABC's Devin Dwyer. Covert basis surge it's been fought swab by swab. Million swirling their cheeks tickling their throats in plunging those white tips into their noses and after a slow start the nation's Coby testing operation has been humming the samples pouring into labs like this one run by testing start up curative. Where ABC news got an exclusive look at the operation processing nearly 10% of the nation's daily tests. You've got thousands and thousands of tests today coming through here death. We have extra capacity as well so this is old designs. To have scale up capacity 200000 samples. The trump administration says more than a 120 million Kobe tests will be available nationwide in October. But far fewer Americans are actually being tested only around a million per day less than thirty million per month. I think people want I'm used to land an award went to do whether it's get a test I think there was messaging and what they're gets tested what's really needed you're taking a test someone else. Country now has more testing last season. Adding to confusion changes to CDC guidelines on testing them president Trump's comment over the summer that he wanted testing rolled back. So I said. People slowed the casting doubt blades. We definitely want people to be tested admiral Gretchen Larson trump administration's Kolzig testy czar its. Your symptomatic you need to get tested if you've been in close contact. With a person known to have that is the we can call that Serbia wants aspect. About 40% of people infected with Covert nineteen don't have symptoms according to CDC. Flagging many more of those cases through testing could be a game changer. We get everyone. Zen knowledge of their own status. They are positive as we can get enough people than she is not good work at a not an excellent day to stay home doctor Michael Mann of Harvard. University wants a Kobe test to be as routine as brushing your teeth. Inexpensive paper strip tests like these still under development don't require a lab and we'll give results in a matter of minutes instead of days. I think that we can how beast has had an Indian available for her armpit. Used. If that's what it tasty as we know that a lot of people don't want to see it in these bigger systems for various reasons. Companies designing at home test tell ABC news they're able to manufacture millions of tests to date. In could have been widely available immediately. We should probably be doing something like twenty million deaths occurred and it if we wants to use these tests as the actual. You stop transmission if we were to reach one million tests today. As you couldn't shall rise in. How soon would that help us get the virus under control within about a month I think if you could actually. Anderson and make a record like us. Start tomorrow what's your sense of how quickly we could get decent test street in the federal government to cheat the reins and you it the federal government. Isn't sold on the idea the FDA has concerns about accuracy and sensitivity. There's also concern the tests higher rate of false negatives. Could create a false sense of security we're meter sure you. That it there weren't at home test would be cheap indeed he could do that had performance. Anywhere close something that would be acceptable. It would be authorized we all want. On we are getting to the point that there might be some candidate do you think we'll get there. I think we'll get there we're not there yet they do not need to meet the standard and other clinical tests because we understand their niche. At number one they have to have a degree of validity aunt and an accurate. Seat in August the FDA authorized the first rapid Kobe tests that doesn't require a loud and so this is what it looks like. Aaron and if he thought to realize you see you'd indicate a positive test result. The five dollar car cheap test made by Abbott which require a medical professional to supervise give results in fifteen minutes. The government purchased a 150 million of them last month. Now shipping them to critical hot spots nursing homes in each BC used with the university of District of Columbia. Which received 7000. I think these. Rapid test if they're going to be very very important a good tool for us as we start to think about bringing more more people back on campus. A majority of Americans believe widespread testing is the key to return to normal activities. Five months ago nearly 60%. Said they were worried about the lack of available covad test. Now it's just 25%. We saw for ourselves so easy walk up testing can be. Now increasingly available at health centers and pharmacies without a doctor's order and often at low or no cost. That sample collection in the fields. Is that is about my friend had not allowed processes themselves. That process the gold standard PCR test is labor intensive and time consuming but highly accurate. This 300 Americans right here who have swapped themselves. There are samples are in these miles that. But no amount to testing can completely eliminate the virus from spreading or provide a free pass to those who get tested. The White House one of the most tested corners of America became a super spreader site in recent weeks. But I think we all know that even does the best. Places that have tested every one has seen outbreaks. A cautionary note is many look to Kobe testy. For some peace of mind. Testing can be hopeful. But on the EU can't rely on testing. Because if your negative one day you could be popular the next bear the next day. And so on. You he would rely on that. As sort of your your heart that they it's okay to get together and I wouldn't risk my family's life my mother's life on that. For ABC news live I'm Devin Dwyer in Washington. Some promising signs there are thanks to DeVon for that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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