The Food and Drug Administration approved a new COVID-19 test that takes 15 minutes to run without needing any lab equipment.
- President Donald Trump is expected to announce a $750 million deal for the US to buy 150 million of these tests, The Wall Street Journal reported.
What is the test?
- The test — called BinaxNOW, developed by health care company Abbott — uses the same technology as a pregnancy test (since it shows results in minutes) to determine if someone has COVID-19.
- The test costs $5.
- BinaxNOW “can be used as a first line of defense to identify people who are currently infected and who should isolate themselves to help prevent the spread of the disease,” Abbot said.
- Abbot said the test has a sensitivity of 97.1% and a specificity of 98.5% based on a clinical study.
- The company plans to make 50 million tests per month by October.
- The FDA said the test could be used in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms and schools.
The massive scale of this test and app will allow tens of millions of people to have access to rapid and reliable testing. With lab-based tests, you get excellent sensitivity but might have to wait days or longer to get the results. With a rapid antigen test, you get a result right away, getting infectious people off the streets and into quarantine so they don’t spread the virus. — Joseph Petrosino, professor and chairman for molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.
How does it work?
Here’s a quick explanation of how it works from the FDA:
To use your product, a nasal swab specimen is collected from the patient, 6 drops of extraction reagent from a dropper bottle are added to the top hole of the swab well. The patient sample is inserted into the test card through the bottom hole of the swab well, and firmly pushed upwards until the swab tip is visible through the top hole. The swab is rotated 3 times clockwise and the card is closed, bringing the extracted sample into contact with the test strip. Test results are interpreted visually at 15 minutes based on the presence or absence of visually detectable pink/purple colored lines.
There will be an app, too
Abbot, the health care company, has plans to release an app that will give people a “health pass” that can shown on their phone as well, making others aware of their recent testing results, The Verge reports.