In less than a month, Abbott Laboratories has shipped more than one million of its highly touted “rapid” molecular tests for the Coronavirus strain COVID-19 to all 50 U.S. states.
The milestone is significant because it has been hailed in the ability of states across the U.S. to ramp up testing and surpass daily goals to re-opening their economies. In Illinois, for example, Gov. J.B. Pritzker Friday reported the state’s biggest volume of COVID-19 test results thus far, calling it a “very important milestone” in the battle against the virus.
The effort to get the ID NOW COVID-19 test to doctor’s offices, urgent care centers and temporary testing sites like drive-thru parking lot locations is a snapshot into the massive diagnostic effort under way in the U.S. Abbott’s ID NOW COVID-19 test can deliver “positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.”
“We have shipped more than 1 million of our rapid ID NOW tests to all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the Pacific Islands,” Abbott said in an update posted Friday on the company’s website. “The majority of these tests have been sent to outbreak hotspots and we’ve asked that customers prioritize frontline health care workers and first responders.”
The test, hailed by the White House and praised by commercial companies like drugstore chains CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance, was granted the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s “emergency use authorization” less than a month ago amid a growing number of agency approvals for more rapid molecular “point-of-care” diagnostic tests that can be used in temporary screening locations, doctor’s office labs and nursing homes to detect the Coronavirus strain COVID-19 within a half hour.
The FDA has escalated approvals of rapid “point-of-care” diagnostics made by other companies including Mesa Biotech and Cepheid which are also ramping up production to meet unprecedented demand.
Earlier this week, The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) projected that the medtech industry will have produced more than 25 million tests by the end of April that are largely molecular testing for the live virus. AdvaMed didn’t disclose specific company names or tallies produced by certain makers.
That kind of production will be welcome to U.S. healthcare providers on the frontlines as well as a Trump White House and federal health agencies dogged by criticism for the lack of testing for Coronavirus.
The U.S. is considered well behind other countries when it comes to the availability of testing. As of Saturday morning, the number of U.S. Coronavirus cases was set to eclipse 930,000 as the number of deaths hurtled past 50,000.
“We’re currently manufacturing 50,000 tests per day, plan to increase ID NOW manufacturing capacity to 2 million tests a month by June and are working to expand beyond that,” Abbott disclosed.