The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday allowed the use of a test to screen blood donations for Zika virus as part of its effort to respond to the outbreak.
The agency worked to announce the availability of the test ahead of schedule, since blood donations have been one area affected by the Zika outbreak.
In February, the FDA issued guidance that areas with active transmission of Zika should receive blood donations from other areas without transmission of the virus.
As a result, Puerto Rico halted blood donations and has instead been receiving shipments of blood from the continental United States.
The availability of the new screening test will allow Puerto Rico to resume blood donations, using the new test to guard against transmitting Zika, the FDA said.
“The availability of an investigational test to screen donated blood for Zika virus is an important step forward in maintaining the safety of the nation’s blood supply,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.
The FDA said it worked closely with the manufacturer of the test, Roche Molecular Systems in New Jersey, to speed up the allowance of the test.
“The close collaboration between the FDA and the product manufacturer was essential to expediting availability,” said Luciana Borio, the FDA’s acting chief scientist.