White House signs $750 million deal with Abbott Labs to buy 150 million rapid coronavirus tests

White House signs $750 million deal with Abbott Labs to buy 150 million rapid coronavirus tests
President Donald Trump holds a new COVID-19 test kit developed by Abbott Labs during the daily coronavirus briefing at the Rose Garden of the White House on March 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • The United States signed a $750 million deal with Abbott Laboratories for 150 million rapid coronavirus tests.
  • Abbot's BinaxNow test was granted emergency authorization by the Federal Drug Administration on Wednesday.
  • The company also said it was preparing to "ship tens of millions of tests in September, ramping production to 50 million tests a month in October."

The United States signed a $750 million deal with Abbott Laboratories for 150 million rapid coronavirus tests, the White House announced Thursday.

"By strategically distributing 150 million of these tests to where they're needed most, we can track the virus like never before and protect millions of Americans at risk in especially vulnerable situations," Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the Federal Drug Administration granted the company emergency authorization for its new COVID-19 test.
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The test called BinaxNow can deliver results in 15 minutes without using lab equipment and would cost $5.

In a statement, the company also said it was preparing to "ship tens of millions of tests in September, ramping production to 50 million tests a month in October."

According to the Wall Street Journal, that total in October would be double the number of tests conducted in July.
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The Journal reported that the test is about the size of a credit card and can be given in a doctor's or school nurse's office.

The contract could help expand testing in the US. Azar said the testing would potentially be "deployed to schools and to assist with serving other special needs populations." "This is a major development that will help our country to remain open, get Americans back to work and kids back to school," White House senior adviser Alyssa Farah said, according to the Journal.
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More than 5.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US so far, and over 180,000 have died.

Experts have called for more testing to help get the outbreak under control.

Abbott said in their statement that their BinaxNow antigen test had 97% sensitivity rate, which is the percent of positive cases a test accurately detects.
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The Journal reported that lab-based PCR tests are generally thought to be more reliable and less sensitive to rapid antigen tests.

"This new COVID-19 antigen test is an important addition to available tests because the results can be read in minutes, right off the testing card. This means people will know if they have the virus in almost real-time," Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health said in a statement. "Due to its simpler design and the large number of tests the company anticipates making in the coming months, this new antigen test is an important advancement in our fight against the pandemic."

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