One of the biggest problems with the COVID-19 coronavirus is the lack and slowness of testing for cases. Overloaded healthcare facilities, faulty tets, and lack of equipment result in the inability to catch up with the true spread of the virus through states, let alone the entire country and the world. Private companies are now rushing to give a hand and Abbott has just announced what could be the smallest and fastest way to get a diagnosis.
Abbott’s ID NOW molecular point-of-care platform is already being used across the country to test for Influenza A&B, Strep A, and RSV or respiratory syncytial virus. Using its knowledge and expertise with this kind of viruses and testing, Abbott expanded its ID NOW to cover the novel coronavirus and cram it in a testing box that is small enough to fit any healthcare office or clinic.
The system works by applying a chemical to a nose or deep throat swab to break down the virus and extract its RNA. It can then identify a small part of the genome and amplify it for detection. Abbott says that a positive result only takes as little as five minutes. Ruling out false positives and other factors to give a negative result, however, takes longer up to 13 minutes.
The company has announced that it has been given the FDA’s “emergency use authorization” or EUA to put the system to use primarily in centers where testing is needed the most. It expects to deliver 50,000 tests per day starting April, which will definitely help give authorities and medical experts a clearer perspective on the spread of the disease.
This isn’t Abbott’s first COVID-19 test, though. Last week it also announced that the FDA approved its RealTime SARS-CoV-2 EUA test though that takes a bit longer to get results. Abbott estimates that the two tests will together be able to churn out 5 million tests next month.