A test that detects coronavirus in 15 minutes
The new diagnostic test for coronavirus can deliver results to patients in the US within minutes.
As COVID-19 cases surge in the US, health officials have approved a point-of-care coronavirus test that can provide results in less than 15 minutes, using the same technology that powers some rapid flu tests.
The US now has more cases of the coronavirus -- 104,000 -- than any other country, and hospitals are struggling to meet the demand to test thousands of people for the often-deadly virus. The global pandemic has so far killed more than 1,700 people in the country.
The Food and Drug Administration granted the approval under its Emergency Use Authorization.
Teased by Vice President Mike Pence in a press briefing earlier this week, the new diagnostic could accelerate testing in the US, allowing for rapid results in doctors’ offices. But shortages of critical equipment used to collect patient specimens, such as masks and swabs, could blunt its impact.
The test’s maker, Abbott Laboratories, said it expects to deliver 50,000 tests per day beginning next week. The technology behind the test looks for genes that are present in the virus, similar to PCR tests already on the market.
The platform used to run the test weighs less than 7 pounds, according to Abbott, and could be deployed “where testing is needed most,” such as at coronavirus hotspots.
“This is a significant leap forward,” said John Frels, Vice President of research and development at Abbott.
“You can get a positive result in five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes. You can walk into a clinic and literally get results while you are there.”
Robert Ford, President and Chief Operating Officer at Abbott, 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.”
Last week, the FDA approved a test made by Cepheid that can be used at the point of care.