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Coronavirus pandemic | Abbott says it has plans to bring COVID-19 tests to the world

Abbott announced early this week that it had received USFDA's Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for its rapid, portable, point-of-care molecular test for the detection of COVID-19.

March 31, 2020 / 03:51 PM IST
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Drugmaker Abbott said on March 31 that it has plans to develop COVID-19 tests across its testing platforms, with the intent to make them accessible across the world.

“We are developing COVID-19 tests across our Abbott testing platforms [including laboratory and lateral flow tests] and plan to bring more tests forward with the intent to get them to more people in more places around the world," Abbott spokesperson said in a statement.

"We are working to produce as many tests as possible, running our production 24/7 and will expand manufacturing capacity when we can," the statement added.

Abbott announced early this week that it had received USFDA's Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for its rapid, portable, point-of-care molecular test for the detection of COVID-19.

The test called ID NOW COVID-19 runs on the company's existing ID NOW machine, delivers positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Currently, the ID NOW COVID-19 test is available only in the US as this is where most of its ID NOW instruments are in use today, the company said.

When will it come to India?

The company, however, didn't specify the timeline about any plans to launch ID NOW COVID-19 test in India.

“We don’t have country-specific plans to share,” Abbott spokesperson said.

The ID NOW platform, is a lightweight, portable machine around the size of a small toaster, which according to Abbott, is already the most widely available molecular point-of-care testing platform used for illnesses like flu and strep.

The machine can be used in healthcare settings such as physicians' offices, urgent care clinics, and hospital emergency departments.

The ID NOW COVID-19 test comes a week after the company launched its Abbott m2000 RealTime SARS-CoV-2 EUA test, which runs on the m2000 RealTime System located in the hospital and reference labs around the world.

Between the two platforms, Abbott expects to produce about 5 million tests per month.

Viswanath Pilla
Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Mar 31, 2020 03:51 pm