Abbott announces new coronavirus antibody blood test to detect who has already been infected
Abbott Laboratories announced it has launched its third coronavirus test, this time a blood test that could determine whether or not a person has been infected.
The test helps identify disease-fighting antibodies in people who have been infected but may have had mild symptoms or none at all.
After an initial shipment of one million tests that will occur on Thursday, Abbott said it could be screening up to 20 million people for antibodies by June.
It comes on the heels of news that the US government is planning to pay hospitals double to run more of Abbott’s automated tests in an effort to incentivize more testing.
Abbott Laboratories has announced a new coronavirus antibody test that will look for antibodies in the blood (pictured)
The company plans to ship one million tests on Thursday and hopes to screen up to 20 million people by June (pictured)
Abbott plans to use the US government is planning to pay hospitals double to run more automated tests in an effort to incentivize more testing. Pictured: President Donald Trump holds a five-minute test for COVID-19 from Abbott in the Rose Garden, March 30
This new test, which is known as a serology test, looks for antibodies against the novel coronavirus in the blood.
Health officials say the test could help scientists understand how widespread the virus is, how many people come into contact with the virus and don’t get sick, and how long patients remain immune after they recover.
This is important because it could allow immune people to leave their homes and return to work and shore up the workforce as well as help healthcare workers determine if they are immune.
‘Antibody testing is an important next step to tell if someone has been previously infected,’ Abbott, based in Illinois, said in a press release.
‘It will provide more understanding of the virus, including how long antibodies stay in the body and if they provide immunity.’
The tests used presently involve a nasal or throat swab, and try to identify the virus’ genetic material to see if someone is currently infected.
This new test requires blood to be collected through a vein, and can only be analyzed in a certified laboratory. It looks to see if someone has ever been exposed and is now immune.
Abbott’s test identifies the IgG antibody, a protein that the body produces in the late stages of infection and may remain for up to months and possibly years after a person has recovered.
The company also said it would work on expanding its testing to detect the antibody, IgM, made by the body a few days after infection.
Abbott said it plans to file for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its test through the emergency use pathway.
Last month, the FDA relaxed the rules on use of diagnostic tests by allowing body-fluid tests to proceed to market without full agency review and approval.
The test helps identify disease-fighting antibodies in people who have been infected but may have had mild symptoms or none at all, making it different from the current diagnostic tests that require nasal swabs to confirm active infection.
The company expects to immediately ship close to one million tests this week to US customers, and will ship a total of four million tests for April.
Abbott has previously won US authorization for two coronavirus testing kits: an automated test that can be used in labs and a test that can deliver results within minutes and be used in physicians’ offices, clinics and hospitals.
Bloomberg reported that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan to raise the reimbursement rate for the automated tests run by Abbott from $51 to $100.
The plan is to incentivize hospitals and medical centers to hire more technicians and ramp up testing.
Last week, Dr Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, say the m2000 machines were running at less than 10 percent capacity,
The machines can reportedly process up to one million tests per week
Source: Daily Mail | Health News