Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, different companies are designing test kits in order to combat the rising cases of COVID-19. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test that can detect the virus in five minutes.
The Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test is created by Abbott Laboratories and it can be used in a multitude of places because of its convenience and portability. The test kits are set to be shipped out as early as next week and Abbott is ramping up production which will enable 50,000 tests per day for the US Healthcare system. The test will yield positive results in 5 minutes and negative results within 13 minutes and it weighs around 7 pounds or 3.2kg.
According to Abbott, the test is designed to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 in respiratory specimens, for example, nasal or oral swabs. The swabs are mixed with a chemical solution that releases the virus’s RNA. This will then be placed in the ID NOW device and the test will detect remnants of the coronavirus genome in the swabs. Most importantly the samples collected from a patient do not have to be sent to a lab, the test can be done right there and then with the device.
According to The Verge, Abbott’s test kits differ to the current tests conducted by laboratories, as they use a method called PCR to detect the coronavirus genome. Polymerase chain reaction needs constant cycling of heating and cooling to work. Meanwhile, Abbott’s tests run at a single temperature and this is what makes the device small, compact and rather lightweight as it does not require much energy. The current tests used in the US will take around four to five days, while some might take as long as a week and the US right now has 143,025 cases and 2,514 deaths.
The Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test uses a rapid, instrument-based, isothermal system for the qualitative detection of infectious diseases. This test is useful in the US for a few reasons. Firstly, high-risk patients can get their test results faster and do not have to stop other important treatments while waiting for their test results. Secondly, public health officials, as well as policymakers, can have a proper understanding of exactly how many cases they are dealing with as the test results can be received quickly. They can even implement new strategies or remove any strategies that do not seem to work.
It is important to note that the test kits by Abbott Laboratories have been made available under an emergency use authorisation. This means that it can be used in authorised laboratories and patient care settings. Previously, a molecular-diagnostic company called Cepheid had received emergency use authorisation from the FDA for its test, however, results take around 45 minutes.