Abbott Laboratories maid announced on August 26 that the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card rapid test for the recognition of coronavirus infection. The point-of-care, rapid test, which is portable and can be run outside the laboratory, produces results in only 15 minutes with the cost of only $5.
BinaxNOW tests are self-contained and require no special tools to practice samples or read test results, although they still must be directed by a medical expert.
With the traditional COVID-19 tests (PCR), there was a nasal pad to obtain a sample from the patient for testing. Unlike PCR tests, which must be given to a lab for processing and the results would take several days to be reported, BinaxNOW discovers antigens (proteins found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus), instead of the virus itself.
The U.S. government has agreed to obtain 150 million of these rapid tests from Abbott, which will start in September.
The laboratory, however, does admit that this test can be expected to produce 2.9-percent false negatives and 1.5-percent false positive, but should still be a huge step towards identifying and isolating carriers of the virus from the non-affected population.
The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card can be used only by medical experts like doctors, nurses, school nurses, medical assistants and technicians, pharmacists, employer occupational health specialists, etc.
Still, there aren’t enough rapid tests to make them widely accessible to travelers or to put everyone through a test in the airports, but just the notion that an available, reliable, cheaper and faster test-kit is becoming closer to us than ever, has created a ray of hope and of course the airline stocks are shooting upward since last week. Maybe there could be traveling after all.