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Lab-in-a-box test can detect COVID-19 in 5 minutes

The FDA has cleared the device for use during the pandemic.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 28, 2020
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Abbott

The FDA has scrambled to allow numerous COVID-19 tests in a bid to control the pandemic, but one of the latest may represent a big step forward in technology fighting the disease. Abbott has received emergency use authorization for a variant of its toaster-sized ID NOW lab-in-a-box that can provide positive results in as soon as five minutes, and all-clear results in 13 minutes. On top of this, it's one of the few tests of its kind that can be used outside of a hospital, such as at a clinic.

The key is its use of molecular testing that looks for a small section of the SARS-CoV-2 virus' RNA and amplifying that segment until there's enough to detect. Other testing methods can take hours or days to produce viable results.

Abbott is in the midst of ramping up production and expects to deliver 50,000 of the tests per day in the US as of next week. However, one of its greatest advantages may be its existing footprint. The ID NOW platform already has the "largest" molecular testing presence in the US, and is already "widely available" in doctors' offices and emergency rooms. If all goes well, the US could both have a more accurate representation of the pandemic's scope and ensure that the infected get the right care as quickly as possible.

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