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New COVID-19 Test Can Return Results in 5 Minutes

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
Journalist. Reach me at

Medical device company Abbott has produced a new COVID-19 test that can return positive results in five minutes – and the device is compact enough to be run in a doctor’s office – according to The Verge.

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Recently, the test was approved for emergency use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The test uses Abbott’s portable ID NOW platform and doesn’t require a central lab for analysis. The test can be run directly in the emergency room or urgent care clinic – this can easily cut down the day’s long wait some patients now face to receive their test results.

A doctor can simply take a swab from a person’s nose or throat, insert it into the test have a result in as little as 5 minutes to deliver positive results, and 13 minutes to deliver negative results.

“With rapid testing on ID NOW, healthcare providers can perform molecular point-of-care testing outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots,” said Robert B. Ford, president and COO of Abbott.

The previous point-of-care test approved by the FDA takes 45 minutes – a larger platform intended for hospitals instead of doctor’s offices – developed by biotech company Cephid.

Quick Testing is Critical

Any test that can quickly give doctors or healthcare workers answers in as short a wait as possible are essential during disease outbreaks – it can quickly let them know how much protective gear they need to wear when engaging with the patient, how cautious they need to be, what sort of care to provide. 5-minute tests performed in a doctor’s office can help identify mild or asymptomatic patients and stop them from unknowingly spreading the virus.

The Abbott device also tests differently to regular tests. Normal testing is usually a lengthy process that involves a method called PCR. This method searches for minuscule pieces of COVID-19 genetic material by heating up the sample and then cooling it back down.

Abbott’s ID NOW device skips the heating and cooling phase, testing for genetic material at a single temperature. This is the reason why it is so small and portable.

Abbott says it plans to start shipping 50,000 ID NOW COVID-19 tests a day starting next week in the US. No word yet on when, or if, they will ship internationally.

As South Africa prepares to send around 10,000 field workers to screen people in their homes, a quick and portable testing kit like the ID NOW (and external power sources) would be a massive aid in simplifying and quickening efforts, giving people their results at their doorstep.

Edited by Luis Monzon

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