FDA clears test to detect coronavirus in 5 minutes

Coronavirus

FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. But some scientists have challenged their accuracy. (NIAID-RML via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new rapid test from Abbott Laboratories, which the company says can detect the coronavirus in about 5 minutes.

Medical device maker Abbott announced the emergency clearance of its cartridge-based test in a release Friday night. The company says that its test delivers a negative result in 13 minutes when the virus is not detected.

The U.S. has been trying for weeks to ramp up coronavirus testing after a series of problems with the initial government-designed test. The nation’s daily testing capacity has been increasing as more diagnostic makers and large laboratories have developed tests.

Abbott’s testing cartridge fits into the company’s portable ID NOW device, which is used at hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices. The company said it would launch the test next week to select health care facilities that deliver urgent care.

The Abbott approval follows two other rapid tests cleared by regulators in the past week. Older laboratory-developed tests can take between 4 to 8 hours to deliver results.

Health experts say the U.S. should be testing 100,000 to 150,000 people per day to track and contain the virus. There are no official nationwide testing metrics, but private and public health labs currently report testing about 80,000 to 90,000 patients per day.

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