The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) intends to purchase the ID NOW COVID-19 rapid point-of-care test developed by Abbott Diagnostics Scarborough Inc., to expand the supply of diagnostics available to state, territorial and tribal public health labs.
Designed for the ID NOW device, this test allows medical diagnostic testing at the same place as patient care, with turnaround times of less than 13 minutes. By joining analysis and care under the same roof, HHS hopes that this will expand the capacity for novel coronavirus testing throughout the country, especially since Abbott intends to produce 50,000 such tests per day for the commercial market.
“This type of rapid, point-of-care test is a critical component of our overall national strategy for testing,” Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir said. “It is a special resource that we will prioritize for vulnerable patients whose treatment or isolation require a rapid determination of COVID-19 status or for outbreak investigations where an immediate result is essential.”
Beyond its speed, the test requires only gloves and a facemask for those administering it. This could potentially save a great deal of personal protective equipment among healthcare professionals, since the tests will be dispatched to public health labs in every state and territory, along with Washington, D.C. Tests will also be given to the Indian Health Service for use on tribal lands and added to the Strategic National Stockpile.
“Getting rapid tests to state, local and tribal public health departments will give them a new tool to protect key populations, such as healthcare workers, and slow the spread,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “Defeating the invisible enemy requires continuously expanding our testing abilities.”
Tests should begin arriving at public health labs this week. If they run out, resupply will be handled by the International Reagent Resource.