Abbott Laboratories, the company that also makes quick flu-diagnosing tests, is on its way to start manufacturing 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day from Wednesday onward. These tests are meant for healthcare providers to quickly diagnose people en masse, more than a million every month.
The tests cost $40 per set and will be shipped to places in the U.S. grappling with the medical crisis, especially New York, California, Washington and Michigan. The tests are touted as a game-changing necessity to rapidly initiate mass testing as incidents of community spreading have been reported.
The Illinois-based company is equipped with both a laboratory and a manufacturing unit in Scarborough, Canada, which is said to be the main location of this unprecedented manufacturing endeavor. However, a Maine laboratory also helped design the COVID-19 testing device called ID NOW. The device is capable of diagnosing a positive infection in a matter of just five minutes, which is a huge upgrade compared to other medical facilities where results can sometimes take days. A negative test result will show within 13 minutes.
The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) gave its approval for ID NOW on Friday. “This is GAME CHANGER. Abbott to market, starting next week, a fast point-of-care #coronavirus test, delivering positive results in 5min and negative results in 13min,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, exclaimed with joy in his tweet.
Scientific Affairs Director Norman Moore believes that this novel test will relieve healthcare workers who can use their protective gear only when necessary. Thus, being able to prolong the utility of gloves and masks, which are scarce right now.
The FDA had expressed to the government that they were running short of reagents, which are chemicals critical to enabling testing for coronavirus by separating the virus’ genetic code to identify it. “This is really an historic moment. The feeling that we have been able to make these tests this quickly is quite amazing,” Moore said.
“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,” Robert B. Ford, Abbott president and chief operating officer, said. “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,” Ford added further.
Once the announcement was made, the New York Stock Exchange on Monday noted that Abbott’s share surged quickly to $79.34. In addition to detecting influenza, Abbott also manufactures tests for pneumonia and HIV.