The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just granted emergency to a COVID-19 test called BinaxNOW that takes 15 minutes to run without a lab test. The test costs $5 and runs on a simple card that uses the same technology as a pregnancy test. The test is a service offered by the health care company Abbott, that is also launching an app that will sync up with the test.
In a press release, Abbott announced its plan to produce 50 million tests per month by October. Director of the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Jeff Shuren, said that the test is an important advancement in the fight against the pandemic due to its simpler design and the large number of tests that Abbott anticipates making in the coming months.
According to FDA, BinaxNOW can be administered in doctors' offices, emergency rooms, as well as schools.
The test works by running off a nasal swab that gets inserted directly into the BinaxNOW card. In case of testing positive for COVID-19, a colored line will appear, whereas a 'digital health pass' will be give on the app to those who test negative.
The BinaxNOW card detects small proteins on the surface of the coronavirus, rather than the genetic sequences of the virus, which makes it an antigen test. According to research, antigen tests are less accurate, but some researchers argue that frequent and cheap testing with a less accurate test is, nevertheless, a good way to control the pandemic. Abbott claims that the test makes correct diagnosis 97.1 percent of the time.
While most people have to be sent off to a lab for detection of COVID-19 and have to wait for days and weeks to receive results, with a rapid antigen test like this, a lot of people can be saved from the hassle. According to Joseph Petrosino, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology, administrating a rapid antigen test like this will save people from the chance of going out and spreading the virus.