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U.S. Government Purchases 150 Million Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Aug. 28, 2020 (EIRNS)—Good news! On Aug. 27, the Trump Administration announced the purchase and production of 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests to be distributed nationwide. These tests, produced by Abbott and called BinaxNOW tests, test for antigens in about 15 minutes, and do not require the use of complex equipment or potentially dangerous chemicals. An Emergency Use Authorization was issued on Aug. 26.

About the size of a credit card (but thicker), they are relatively reliable, with sensitivity (correctly identifying positive cases) 97.1% of the time, and specificity (correctly identifying negative cases) 98.5% of the time.

If such tests are used frequently, the sensitivity is not an issue, although the specificity of 98.5% means that they will misdiagnose as positive 1.5% of uninfected people, who (along with their close contacts) might then isolate needlessly for two weeks.

Abbott will scale up production to the level of 50 million per month. This is excellent news, and help in achieving testing levels relative to infection levels such that contact tracing can be effective in more rapidly reducing the number of infections.

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