DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The State of Texas has purchased 300,000 Covid-19 tests.
They’re different from the swabs placed in the nose.READ MORE: 50K Veterans Impacted By 2-Week Closure Of Fort Worth VA Clinic Due To Burst Pipe Damage
Instead, they’re oral swabs.
The state announced a total of 80,000 of the tests will be sent to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and administered to state prison inmates and employees.
Records show more than 2,450 inmates and employees tested positive for the virus, and there’ve been as many as 55 deaths in the system possibly related to the virus.
No word yet how the state will use the remaining 220,000 tests.
State records show the Texas Division of Emergency Management bought the tests from a company called Curative, Inc. for $45 million.
The founder and CEO of the company, Fred Turner, said people can do the test themselves.
After coughing three times, they swab the inside of their mouth, and then seal it in the packaging without exposing anyone else.
Turner said, “You don’t have to have a healthcare professional go in there and collect the sample. You’re not having to have any physical interaction between the person doing the sample collection and the patient that’s having the sample collected.”
Turner said his company has developed its own components for the test and found alternative supplies. “I think this has really allowed us to scale very rapidly without the same supply constraints that are affecting others.”
Early on, the State Department of Health Services said there were problems receiving tests because of supply chain interruptions, but that they have since eased.
The company received an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA, and if someone has tested positive, Turner said the probability the company will correctly identify they are positive is 89.7%.
The company said its swab has a 10% false and negative rate.READ MORE: FEMA COVID-19 Vaccine Site Opens At Globe Life Field In Arlington
A Yale study found comparable accuracy with the nasopharyngeal test.
Asked how his company will receive approval from the FDA, Turner said, “As of yet, the FDA has not defined a process from moving from EUA’s to what would presumably be clearance. As the crisis unfolds and things calm down, they will most likely put out a pathway how that’s going to happen.”
Turner said Curative also doesn’t have to compete for lab resources.
“We’re actually bringing on brand new supply that wouldn’t exist otherwise. We operate and run the lab completely. We make many of the components that go into the lab testing from scratch. Our process needs to run in one of our labs. We are looking at the potential of putting a lab location in, a Curative lab location in Texas.”
He said they’re still figuring out details and will likely make a decision in the next few weeks.
“Everything moves faster during Covid. In Covid years, it’s several decades that have passed now.”
Curative has contracts to provide tests for the U.S. Air Force, the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, the states of Delaware, Florida, and Alaska, and the city of Chicago.
Asked if the state of Texas will be purchasing additional tests, Turner said, “It’s not something I can comment on. But we’d love to keep supporting the state.”
If Turner looks young, that’s because he is.
This Oxford University graduate who studied biochemistry started operating his company in January.
He said his team was working on testing for sepsis, and in mid-February, after the pandemic hit, they decided to change their focus to Covid-19. “There was clearly this order of magnitude deficit in testing availability for what was going to be needed. And it was hard to look at those numbers and not do something about it.”
Turner said they made the move from the San Francisco area to Los Angeles in one week. “Yeah, we moved very quickly to try to address the crisis as fast as possible. We’ve hired a fantastic team of experienced operators and scientists that know and have done this before. And a a lot of the challenge right now and building out this infrastructure in the middle of a pandemic is moving quickly and pulling the right people together and getting them aligned behind a goal and that’s something I think I can do.”MORE NEWS: Power Outages, Burst Pipes... Potholes Now A Concern After Historic Texas Cold Snap