Abbott Labs is working a speedy Covid check in U.S. faculties and workplaces

Abbott Laboratories BinaxNow kit

Abbott Labs

Abbott Labs announced Tuesday that it is making its BinaxNOW Covid-19 rapid antigen test available for schools, universities, pharmacies and workplaces that require frequent and affordable testing. The company, which has been testing its U.S. employees weekly since October, is also sharing its testing plan with customers interested in learning the model it uses to bring its employees back to its facilities.

The company is in the final stages of its self-financed investment in US manufacturing capacity to meet market demand. With the development of the pandemic, the need for rapid tests has increased. To date, at least 374,442 Americans have died from the coronavirus since the health crisis began, and the nation registers at least 244,300 new Covid-19 cases every day, based on a 7-day average calculated by CNBC using data from Johns Hopkins University.

Rapid Covid tests could play a crucial role in the coming weeks and months. The introduction of vaccines in the US has been slow. The battle to control the spread of the virus is expected to intensify as new infectious varieties of the disease emerge in the United States

Introduced in August, Abbott Labs has distributed 150 million BinaxNow Covid-19 antigen tests through the Department of Health and Human Services to states, territories, and audiences such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health facilities and hospice, black colleges and universities, and the Indian healthcare sector. Abbott will continue to supply HHS with a total of 30 million tests through March 2021.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved Abbott Labs’ rapid Covid-19 test for home use, despite doctors having to prescribe the test for patients.

How it works

Abbott’s $ 5 BinaxNOW Covid-19 test is the size of a credit card and doesn’t require any equipment. It delivers results in 15 minutes and detects the virus when people are most contagious and therefore at greatest risk of spreading it to others. The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag card is an assay for the qualitative detection of specific antigens against Covid-19 in the human nasal cavity. A simple nasal swab is used to collect samples from people who are suspected of having an active infection.

The BinaxNOW test can be combined with the free NAVICA app developed by Abbott to allow people who test negative to view a temporary digital health certificate, which is renewed every time a person is tested. People who test negative on BinaxNOW can receive a QR code (similar to a mobile boarding pass to board an airplane), and organizations can scan and review the information to manage access to facilities that accept NAVICA.

The reliability of the BinaxNow test has been analyzed by the scientific community. A recent real-world study conducted by the University of California-San Francisco at BinaxNOW showed a performance of 93.3% sensitivity and 99.9% specificity for a Ct number of 30 and below. Ct counts indicate how often a PCR instrument has to run to amplify enough genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus to be detectable. The greater the amount of virus present (viral load), the fewer cycles are required to detect the virus. A person with a higher viral load (and a lower Ct number) is more likely to be infectious.

“Our intent with BinaxNOW and NAVICA was to have a greater impact on the country returning to a sense of normalcy, with widespread availability in places where people need it most like schools and universities, workplaces and more Pharmacies, “said Robert B. Ford, President and CEO, Abbott. “While BinaxNOW has benefited many, it is time for more people to see the benefits of faster, more reliable rapid tests.”

The University of Wisconsin system will be the first US customer to back up BinaxNOW on a large scale, sourcing 480,000 tests for use at its universities and branch offices over a six month period.

A safety net for the workforce

After testing more than 300,000 employees across the country, Abbott has gained critical insights into managing workflow, reporting, and using NAVICA so employees can save, access, and view their test results, said Mary Moreland, executive vice president of human Resources, Abbott. “This is information that we would like to pass on when companies want to learn more.”

The company has used the BinaxNOW test to improve the health safety of its key employees, including scientists, engineers, and manufacturing workers. “It offers an additional level of protection and security beyond CDC guidelines, including social distancing, wearing face masks and hand washing,” added Moreland.

An Abbott Labs employee receives the BinaxNOW Covid-19 antigen rapid test at her workplace.

Abbott Labs

As she explained, employees must use the app on their mobile phones to show a negative test result or have a scheduled test done the next day before they can be admitted into the building.

Frank Weitekamper, vice president of Abbott’s transition organization, who helped develop the company’s test rollout plan, noted that the company set up test sites in 40 locations across the United States, mostly in conference rooms, and worked with third-party occupational health professionals The tests. “A program like this takes a lot of resources and it is a good strategy to have an outside partner test it.”

To date, testing employees quickly has not only improved morale at Abbott Labs, but has also increased productivity. “Because we do so many tests, we can find many asymptomatic employees who test positive for the virus,” said Weitekamper. “This enables us to quickly quarantine infected employees so that they do not infect others in the workplace.”

Mary Rodgers, a virus hunter and chief scientist in Abbott’s Diagnostics division, learned this firsthand. She took the test in October and was positive for Covid-19, despite not showing any symptoms of the disease. “The early warning has helped me ensure that other members of my family and my co-workers have never contracted the virus. I was able to immediately quarantine, test other members of my family for the disease and take the necessary precautions to protect them, so they don’t do it. ” don’t get sick. “

Your story reveals a shocking statistic. According to Moreland, 7 out of 10 workers who tested positive for Covid after the BinaxNow test showed no symptoms of the disease. “This was one of Abbott’s most surprising results. Tests were able to intercept these so they could take precautions and avoid infecting other employees.”

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