(Reuters) – It could take at least a couple of weeks, if not months, for the United States to implement broad testing for coronavirus, Roche Holding AG Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan said in an interview with CNBC on Monday.

Schwan was responding to a question about testing being made available for everyone in the United States, including people without symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, which has infected more than 32,000 people and killed over 415 people in the United States.

FILE PHOTO: CEO Severin Schwan of Swiss drugmaker Roche attends the company’s annual news conference in Basel, Switzerland January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“The industry is increasing capacities, but at the same time infection rates are even increasing faster,” Schwan said.

“At the moment (testing) capacities are limited. That is why we have to prioritize testing to higher risk patients.”

Coronavirus tests made by Roche were granted emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 13.

Roche is also testing its rheumatoid arthritis treatment, Actemra, as a potential drug for treating coronavirus-related illness.

The company on Monday received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s clearance to test the drug on patients hospitalized with severe pneumonia caused by the coronavirus.


Reporting By Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Vinay Dwivedi

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