September 16, 2020 -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published comparative performance data for about 55 COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests. The data show the limit of detection of the tests against an FDA standardized sample panel.
The lower the limit of detection, the smaller amount of viral material in a sample, which is an indication of a more sensitive test. However, the data do not show a specific test's sensitivity, so it cannot be used alone to determine whether a test should be authorized. Instead, it gives labs and healthcare providers a resource to compare the relative performance of available tests, according to the FDA.
Test developers were required to assess the performance of their tests against the FDA reference panel as a condition of receiving their emergency use authorizations (EUA). The approximately 150 developers who were given reference panels were not told the amount of viral material in the FDA's samples to ensure accuracy.