This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a new COVID-19 test that allows results to be read directly by healthcare providers.
“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,” said Dr. Jeff ShurenTrusted Source, JD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a statementTrusted Source.
He explained that this would allow people to know if they’re infected, “in almost real-time.”
Results in 15 minutes
According to a press release from Abbott, the company that created the new test, it’s highly portable, affordable, can provide results in 15 minutes, and only costs $5s per test.
“The thinking until more recently has been a push to have more accurate tests available. But as such tests continue to be fraught with delays related to availability of supplies including swabs and reagents, we are concerned that ongoing delays have led to missed cases and more people getting infected,” Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline.
The new test is called the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag CardTrusted Source. It is an antigen test that looks for pieces of viral material in samples. These tests aren’t as accurate as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that look for the genetic material of the virus.
Abbott emphasized that the device will be “an important tool to manage risk by quickly identifying infectious people so they don’t spread the disease to others.”
According to the FDATrusted Source, the testing process is simple.
A healthcare provider swabs the patient’s nose and places the sample on a test card containing a testing reagent. About 15 minutes later, the provider reads the results from the testing card. Similar to some pregnancy tests, results are indicated by the number of lines.