Coronavirus Update: Abbott molecular COVID-19 test gets results in minutes

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It could be a game changer in COVID 19 testing: A company with offices in the Tri-State area received emergency authorization from the FDA for a test that could get results back in a matter of minutes.

Up until now, most of the old machines used to process samples of the tests took hours, and due to backlogs, patients can wait up to a week to get those results back.

In a rare move, the FDA gave emergency approval to Abbott Laboratories to start using a smaller machine called "ID NOW" that can generate positive results in five minutes and a negative result in as little as 13 minutes.

"That enables the health care provider to see a patient, diagnose a patient and take the necessary interventions in a very short amount of time," said Gavin Cloherty, head of Infectious Disease Research for Abbott's diagnostics business.

Unlike most testing machines that are large, the new testing device is about the size of a toaster and can be used in more places like doctor offices and urgent care centers.

The company said it is ramping up production and will be delivering 50,000 tests a day.

"This new rapid test is an incredibly important tool," said Peter Pitts, a former FDA commissioner.

Pitts said it would improve testing, and the devices will be shipped to health care workers across the New York area this week.

"If you're in the doctor's office, it will be positive or negative relatively quickly, and your doctor can then tell you how to move forward in helping you address the disease," he said.

The test will not only help identify those who have the virus but those who don't.

It will allow those essential workers, like doctors and nurses, who test negative to get back to work.

"It can take the thousands of people who are coming out through the other end of the tunnel to come back to work and help get our economy driving again who aren't contagious," Pitts said.

Pitts also said the most important thing people can do right now is to stay home.

He urges those who are healthy and who have minor symptoms to self-isolate to prevent the virus from spreading.

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