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US signs deal to buy 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests from Abbott

Published on 28/08/20 at 01:19pm
Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen

The US government has signed a deal to buy Abbott’s rapid coronavirus test after the FDA gave it Emergency Use Authorization earlier this week.

The test only costs $5 and delivers results in minutes without lab equipment, and is paired with a mobile app for Android and iPhone called NAVICA. The company said that their antigen test, called BinaxNOW, has a 97% sensitivity rate, which is the amount of positive cases a test accurately detects.

The deal is worth $750 million and will provide 150 million tests.

Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, commented on the deal: “By strategically distributing 150 million of these tests to where they're needed most, we can track the virus like never before and protect millions of Americans at risk in especially vulnerable situations.”

Over 5.8 million Americans have contracted coronavirus, with over 180,000 fatalities, and the government is hoping mass testing will help get the outbreak under control. The tests used so far are mostly molecular tests, but these were not designed to be used at the speed and scale required by the pandemic.

Jeff Shuren, the Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement: “This new COVID-19 antigen test is an important addition to available tests because the results can be read in minutes, right off the testing card. This means people will know if they have the virus in almost real time. Due to its simpler design and the large number of tests the company anticipates making in the coming months, this new antigen test is an important advancement in our fight against the pandemic.”

Currently, the test is only authorised for patients who are suspected to have coronavirus within seven days of first experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms. 

Conor Kavanagh

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