Rapid Tests for Coronavirus to Be Developed in Maine

Abbott Laboratories has been authorized by the FDA to produce a test for COVID-19 that will yield results in as little as 5 minutes

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Maine division of a global health care company will make coronavirus tests that determine positive cases in five minutes.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Abbott Laboratories to produce a COVID-19 kit for its ID NOW test platform.

To identify someone with the disease caused by the new coronavirus, a doctor would take the newly-approved test and run it through a device roughly the size of a toaster, with positive results in five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.

"This testing platform is the most widely-used point-of-care molecular instrument in the country," said Kimberly LaFleur, Abbott Rabid Diagnostics' senior manager of public affairs. "The instrument's compact, portable design means this test could be used in a remote, portable environment, including traditional sites like drive-through testing facilities or airports."

Over the weekend, Abbott received high-level praise for developing the kits, when President Donald Trump described them as "a whole new ballgame" in the fight against COVID-19 during a White House press briefing on Sunday.

Locally, there is excitement, as well.

Asked about the diagnostic test on Monday, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah called Abbott's work "a big step forward."

However, Shah cautioned he had questions that needed t.o be addressed before making definitive statements about the impact, including what type of supply chain would be required to produce the kits and the chemicals needed to conduct the tests.

"I want to make sure I get answers to these questions," he said.

Asked about supply chains by NECN and NBC10 Boston, LaFleur said, "testing kits are shipped with all needed materials and we don't anticipate any supply chain issues in regards to materials for the test."

NECN and NBC10 Boston also asked about the speed of getting the tests to patients nationwide and the cost of doing so.

LaFleur responded that Abbott is currently "working with the [Trump] Administration to deploy the tests to areas where they can have the greatest impact," adding, "ID NOW COVID-19 tests will be priced the same as our current ID NOW Influenza A&B test."

Abbott has said previously it's goal is to produce 50,000 five-minute COVID-19 tests daily.

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