Abbott announced on Friday that it has developed a five-minute test for coronavirus and will begin shipping 50,000 of the tests a day to hospitals, doctors’ offices, and emergency clinics next week.
Late Friday night, the company sent out this tweet of the announcement:
— Abbott (@AbbottNews) March 27, 2020
This type of rapid testing has not been available in the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The typical time from securing a patient swab to obtaining positive or negative results using currently available tests is one to four days.
In the one week period between the start of Saturday, March 21, and the end of Friday, March 27, more than 400,000 coronavirus tests have been completed in the United States, bringing the number of tests completed to more than 600,000 since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
While the recent testing ramp-up has been significant, much less than one percent of the nation’s 327 million residents have been tested to date.
In a press release announcing the new test, the company said:
Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), delivering positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes. The test will run on the company’s ID NOW™ platform, providing rapid results in a wide range of healthcare settings such as physicians’ offices, urgent care clinics and hospital emergency departments.
The ID NOW platform is small, lightweight (6.6 pounds) and portable (the size of a small toaster), and uses molecular technology, which is valued by clinicians and the scientific community for its high degree of accuracy. ID NOW is already the most widely available molecular point-of-care testing platform in the U.S. today.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will be fought on multiple fronts, and a portable molecular test that offers results in minutes adds to the broad range of diagnostic solutions needed to combat this virus,” said Robert B. Ford, president and chief operating officer, Abbott. “With rapid testing on ID NOW, healthcare providers can perform molecular point-of-care testing outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.”
Abbott will be making ID NOW COVID-19 tests available next week to healthcare providers in urgent care settings in the U.S., where the majority of ID NOW instruments are in use today. The company is working with the Administration to deploy tests to areas where they can have the greatest impact.
“The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting April 1, said John Frels, vice president of research and development at Abbott Diagnostics,” Bloomberg News reported. At that rate, Abbott could provide an additional 350,000 of these five-minute tests to medical professionals around the country in the one-week period between April 1 and April 8.
The availability of these additional tests and the rapidity with which the results will be known are expected to play an important role in the Trump administration’s plan to use extensive testing to address the coronavirus pandemic.