US-based med tech company to roll out rapid COVID-19 test kits

In the continuing evolution of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, a major U.S.-based medical brand reveals a groundbreaking way to conduct rapid testing in as few as five minutes.

Abbott Laboratories, a medical technology and health care company, was given emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to roll out a new test kit that runs on its proprietary ID NOW device on March 27.

The ID NOW testing device has already been previously used to test for flu, strep, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in patients.

Most importantly, the new test costs only US$40 [AU$66] each, with the capability to give positive results in as little as five minutes, and negative results in about 13 minutes.

How do the new test kits work?

The new testing procedure works by using chemicals to dissolve the virus’s outer shell, causing it to release its genetic material (RNA).

Once that part of the process is done, the kit uses additional chemical reactions in order to amplify the material and allow molecular markers in the test solution to identify whether the novel coronavirus is present or not.

One of the most vital features of Abbott’s test kit is that ID NOW can perform the genetic amplification at a steady temperature, which means that it can get out results in a faster period of time, in comparison to other existing COVID-19 testing kits.

The compact size of the ID NOW device allows for ease of use across different locations and settings.

Abbott to deliver 2 million test kits in the US in the coming months

Abbott has committed to deliver up to 50,000 ID NOW COVID-19 tests per day in the United States.

Distribution of the test kits started on March 31, and as of April 3, the company announced that it has shipped more than 190,000 rapid tests to different laboratories and health care facilities in 21 states.

Abbott also said that they are ramping up the manufacturing of the test kits and are planning to increase their capacity to provide as much as 2 million tests a month by June.

Assuring the public against profiteers and hoarders, the company added:

“Beyond delivering our tests, we are also doing all we can to monitor the deployment of the rapid tests and to avoid hoarding or price-gouging in secondary markets.”

Rapid testing to suppress fast spread of the virus

Instead of waiting for hours, days, or even weeks, patients only need to wait for a few minutes in order to determine whether or not they have the COVID-19 virus.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine show promise against COVID-19

Robert B. Ford, president and chief operating officer of Abbott Laboratories, said in a statement:

“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 […] 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.”

Daman Kowalski, vice president and head of Molecular Diagnostics at Abbott, added:

“Providing people at the frontlines of this pandemic with critical tests will help ensure proper care for patients and help protect our communities.”

Finally, more testing means that governments can allocate their resources more efficiently, thus allowing them to control the COVID-19 pandemic in a shorter time.

Featured image courtesy of Abbott Laboratories

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