In the continued fight against COVID-19, testing for the virus has become one of many pitfalls in the country’s delayed crisis response. Without enough test kits to check everyone who seeks one, and long wait times for results, asymptomatic carriers have been freely spreading the virus in their communities.

Now, in an effort to help solve the US COVID-19 testing crisis, one Idaho cannabis start-up is converting devices built for roadside THC tests into coronavirus screening tech that works in five minutes. By checking for viral proteins instead of antibodies, Facible CEO Steven Burden is confident that the cannabis tech company can use its machines to help with the public health crisis.

“It’s not the traditional test which is what most — 90 percent of the market right now — [is using], and it’s not a stereological test, meaning you don’t need blood for it, so we’re not testing for antibodies. We’re actually testing for the presence of viral proteins, and it’s actually different from anything else on the market right now, in terms of how fast it is and how accurate it is,” Burden told news station KTVB.

The machines still need to pass clinical trials before they can be used to test the American public. But due to the dire crisis that COVID-19 presents, FDA approval timelines have been shortened for test kits, giving Facible a potential fast-track to production.

“We’re launching with COVID-19 because the regulations have dropped; they don’t have that year-long FDA approval process,” Burden said.

Across America’s northern border in Canada, health officials have already reached out to cannabis testing labs to see if cannabinoid testing equipment can be used to run COVID-19 screenings. Meanwhile, cannabis businesses across the globe are donating personal protective equipment to healthcare workers in need, and are looking into whether THC or CBD’s anti inflammatory properties could help reduce COVID-19 symptoms in patients. 

For Facible, the next step in turning their THC and CBD testing machines into COVID-19 screeners will be securing FDA approval and then funding to produce more of this potentially game-changing technology. 

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