FDA Approves $5 Coronavirus Test That Doesn’t Require Special Equipment

August 27, 2020
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    A rapid coronavirus test that does not need any special equipment to give results was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday.

    The self-contained test from Abbott Laboratories is the size of a credit card and will sell for $5, reports The Washington Post.

    The test uses the same technology as rapid strep and flu tests, and will require a nasal swab done by a health worker. The nasal swab needs to be inserted into the card, and a few drops of a chemical solution then need to be added for markings to appear. Similar to a pregnancy test, the card will indicate whether the test is positive or negative.

    CNN reports that the rapid antigen test will provide results in 15 minutes.

    A saliva test from Yale University was also recently approved by the FDA. Unlike other tests, the SalivaDirect test does not need a special tube, with sample collection possible with any sterile container. Neither test can be done at home, though there are several companies currently developing at-home COVID-19 tests.

    In a statement, the FDA said that the Abbott test may need to be confirmed with a lab test, as rapid tests are less accurate than tests that are developed in a lab. However, the test could be administered in places like schools, emergency rooms, or doctors' offices, said the government organization. “Given the simple nature of this test, it is likely that these tests could be made broadly available,” they shared.

    Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Rockefeller Foundation, a nonprofit group that has called for 4 million COVID-19 tests per day in the United States by October, said earlier this month that “those screening tests are what we need in schools, workplaces and nursing homes in order to catch asymptomatic spreaders.”

    Testing delays caused by shortages of testing supplies for nasal swab tests have led to extended wait times for test results across the United States. While the accuracy of these tests is high, their reliance on specialized machines and chemicals has limited testing capacity, and public health experts hope that the expansion of non-lab testing can boost testing capacity in the country.

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