The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency-use approval Wednesday for a credit card sized, rapid-response Covid-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories, which could help to meet the need to ramp up testing to contain the disease in the U.S.
Abbott said it plans to ship tens of millions of tests this September, and will be able to ramp up production to 50 million tests in October.
The test, which is roughly the size of a credit card, can be performed by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and medical assistants, and delivers results in 15 minutes.
The new test is called the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, and is meant to be taken within seven days of first feeling coronavirus symptoms.
A health-care provider collects a sample using a nasal swab, then inserts it into the card-sized test—no external equipment is needed to produce the results.
Along with the test Abbot produced a free app, NAVICA, for iPhone and Android platforms, that will allow people who test negative to show a “temporary digital health pass” marked with the date of your last test from their phones.
Some public-health professionals and lawmakers have said that low cost, mass-produced rapid point-of-care tests are the best way to find those that have been infected and curb the spread of the coronavirus.
While public-health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have called for increased testing since April, even the largest laboratories have found it difficult to keep up with the increased demand, which has resulted in a nationwide delay in test results. Until recently, researchers and doctors have demanded the most accurate tests available, but as tests continue to bottleneck, some worry that delays in test results have led to cases being missed and more people are getting infected. Rapid coronavirus tests, while not as accurate as the tests currently being used, would allow people to be tested quickly and more often, increasing the chances that someone with the virus would be able to isolate before infecting others.