A new way of detecting whether you have COVID-19 under 15 minutes without the need for laboratory equipment just got emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and it will cost US$5 to run on a simple card which uses the same technology as a pregnancy test.
The test is called the BinaxNOW which is made by the health company Abbott. The emergency app basically links up with the tests and let you know whether you’re negative for the virus which can be displayed on a smartphone.
The CEO of the company Robert Ford did explain in a statement that the combination of the test and the app offer a “comprehensive testing solution” whereas the company is said to be on the verge of producing some 50 million tests per month by October.
“Due to its simpler design and the large number of tests the company anticipates making in the coming months, this new antigen test is an important advancement in our fight against the pandemic,” said Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement.
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The test can then be used in doctor’s offices, emergency rooms and also in schools based on statements gotten from the FDA. The method of testing is done via nasal swab which then gets inserted directly into the BinaxNOW card and then a colored line appears showing that the test is positive for the COVID-19.
The technology works by detecting the small proteins on the surface of the virus instead of the the genetic sequences of the virus itself. Though some researchers have argued that a frequent and cheap testing even with less accurate test is one of the best ways of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic as tests that only look for proteins called antigen tests are usually less accurate.
But Abbott did say that the test correctly diagnoses a coronavirus infection 97.1 percent of the time and correctly returns a negative result about 98.5% of the time.
While the Abbott method is much faster, the traditional way of going about this is via nasal swabs taken to the lab for further examination. But the process is very slow with innumerable people in the US complaining about how long it took them to get result of their test making people question the point of getting tested in the first place as it took weeks before they could get results.
“With a rapid antigen test, you get a result right away, getting infectious people off the streets and into quarantine so they don’t spread the virus,” said Joseph Petrosino, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, in a statement from Abbott.