The United States and the world are currently experiencing a serious outbreak of respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2. The respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, first identified in December 2019, is now known as Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19. The disease has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). As of March 2020, cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in every U.S. State.
It is believed that coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted person-to-person by respiratory droplets. Accordingly, handwashing, avoiding touching one’s face, and social distancing are first lines of defense against becoming infected. Based on data from the recent outbreak in Italy, it appears that 5% of confirmed COVID-19 cases were critically ill, approximately 25% had severe disease, and the remaining cases had mild disease or had unspecified, few or no symptoms. The case fatality rate was 7.2% with fatalities predominantly occurring in patients aged 70 years and older. However, since testing was skewed towards those seeking or requiring medical care, the actual rates of severe disease and fatalities among infected individuals overall are likely to be lower. In this regard, a recent analysis of data for the Wuhan, China outbreak suggests that the fatality rate for symptomatic COVID-19 cases is about 1.4%.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 within the U.S., together with the significant percentage of infected individuals that appear to require hospital care, risk straining or even overwhelming the capacity of our medical institutions to deliver appropriate care to all those who need it. In this context, widely available and rapid diagnostic testing to determine if an individual is infected with the coronavirus is not only critical for delivering appropriate medical care to the individual but also critical for implementing measures to limit the spread of the virus. As recently reported in the media, the rapid and wide scale national rollout of coronavirus testing options in the United States has been frustrated, in part, by supply limitations either of the tests themselves or of products used to prepare collected specimens for testing.
To address the urgent need for expanded coronavirus testing, and building on decades of delivering clinical laboratory services and molecular diagnostics innovations, Enzo continues to use its expertise to develop and deliver innovative solutions to address today's global healthcare challenges.