Rome News-Tribune

FDA approves new at-home COVID-19 test

- By Ellen Knickmeyer

An at-home test for coronaviru­s won emergency use approval Monday from the federal Food and Drug Administra­tion.

The Quidel Quickvue test got the green light as the government seeks to make it easier for Americans to determine if they have been infected with the deadly virus.

“The FDA continues to prioritize the availabili­ty of more at-home testing options in response to the pandemic,” said Dr. Jeff Shuren, an FDA official.

The nasal swab test can be self-administer­ed by anyone over 14 years old or performed by a parent on anyone over 8 years old.

It’s designed for use by patients whose health care providers believe have been infected.

The FDA said it can detect the presence or absence of COVID-19 within the first six days of when the patient experience­s symptoms.

It’s the second approval for tests outside of hospitals by Quidel.

The company won approval for their Quickvue SARS Antigen Test which is designed for use in laboratori­es as well as for pointof-care testing.

Some public health experts are concerned that fewer COVID tests are being administer­ed as infection rates decline after a major holiday surge.

As a presidenti­al candidate, Joe Biden promised to make a pariah out of Saudi Arabia over the 2018 killing of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. But when it came time to actually punish Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Biden’s perception of America’s strategic interests prevailed.

The Biden administra­tion made clear Friday it would forgo sanctions or any other major penalty against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Khashoggi killing, even after a U.S. intelligen­ce report concluded the prince ordered the it.

The decision highlights how the real-time decisions of diplomacy often collide with the righteousn­ess of the moral high ground. And nowhere is this conundrum more stark than in the United States’ complicate­d relationsh­ip with Saudi Arabia — the world’s oil giant, a U.S. arms customer and a counterbal­ance to Iran in the Middle East.

“It is undeniable that Saudi Arabia is a hugely influentia­l country in the Arab world,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday when asked about Biden’s retreat from his promise to isolate the Saudis over the killing.

Ultimately, Biden administra­tion officials said, U.S. interests in maintainin­g relations with Saudi Arabia forbid making a pariah of a young prince who may go on to rule the kingdom for decades. That stands in stark contrast to Biden’s campaign promise to make the kingdom “pay the price” for human rights abuses and “make them in fact the pariah that they are.”

“We’ve talked about this in terms of a recalibrat­ion. It’s not a rupture,” Price said of the U.s.-saudi relationsh­ip.

But what the Biden administra­tion is calling a “recalibrat­ion” of former President Donald Trump’s warm relationsh­ip with Saudi royals looks a lot like the normal U.S. stand before Trump: chiding on human rights abuses in the kingdom, but not allowing those concerns to interfere with relations with Saudi Arabia.

In recent days, Biden officials have responded to intense criticism of its failure to sanction the prince by pointing to U.S. measures targeting his lower-ranking associates.

Those include steps against the prince’s “Tiger squad” that allegedly has sought out dissidents abroad and sanctions and visa restrictio­ns upon Saudi officials who directly participat­ed in Khashoggi’s slaying and dismemberm­ent.

The language itself has softened, with Biden officials referring to Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner rather than pariah.

Watching it all, Trump suggested over the weekend that Biden’s stand on Saudi Arabia’s prince wasn’t so different from his after all. Khashoggi’s killing by Mohammed bin Salman’s security and intelligen­ce officials was bad, Trump told Fox News, “but we have to look at it as an overall” situation. Biden seems to be “viewing it maybe in a similar fashion, very interestin­g, actually.”

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