In late August, the U.S Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Abbott Laboratories for its new rapid COVID-19 test.
Doctors and scientists hope that the “BinaxNow Covid-19 Ag Card” rapid test will help to expand access to testing in the nation’s under-served areas. With a price tag of just $5, the rapid test is being hailed as a “game-changer.”
How Does BinaxNow Work?
In its press release announcing emergency use authorization from the FDA, Abbott described BinaxNow as “a rapid, reliable, highly portable, and affordable tool for detecting active coronavirus infections at massive scale.”
The rapid test uses Abbott’s established lateral flow technology, which is similar to a store-bought pregnancy test. This means it doesn’t require any additional instruments or laboratory tools to process and read results. BinaxNow is small, about the size of a credit card, and reveals results within fifteen minutes.
A doctor can perform the BinaxNow test with a standard nasal swab in both nostrils, “rotating five times in each nostril,” Abbott specifies. The clinician then opens the BinaxNow testing card, lays it flat, and adds six drops of extraction reagent into the designated hole on the test card. The nasal swab is inserted directly into another hole and rotated three times before the test is closed.
Patients can receive results on-the-spot, which experts believe will empower the U.S response to COVID-19. “The availability of rapid testing for COVID- 19 will help support overburdened laboratories, accelerate turnaround times and greatly expand access to people who need it,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, professor of laboratory Medicine at University of California, San Francisco.
White House Acquires 150 Million BinaxNow Tests
The Trump Administration negotiated a $750 million deal with Abbott Laboratories to acquire 150 million BinaxNow tests. It is believed that the tests will be directed for use in schools, nursing homes, and other areas with high-risk populations.
“This is a major development that will help our country to remain open, get Americans back to work, and kids back to school,” said White House spokesperson Alyssa Farah.
Abbott expects to produce about 50 million tests per month by October, with many more to come by the end of the year. Experts hope the rapid turnaround time of BinaxNow will resolve the bottleneck that has plagued so many testing facilities and hospitals.
“We intentionally designed the BinaxNOW test and NAVICA app so we could offer a comprehensive testing solution to help Americans feel more confident about their health and lives,” said Robert B. Ford, president and chief executive officer, Abbott. “BinaxNOW and the NAVICA app give us an affordable, easy-to-use, scalable test, and a complementary digital health tool to help us have a bit more normalcy in our daily lives.”