The federal government began its rollout of the Abbott BinaxNOW Ag Card rapid COVID-19 test to states this week with the announcement of a national distribution plan meant to support K-12 schools, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and others as needed.
The test is meant to help states reopen, even as cases continue to rise in many areas — something the Trump administration has been pushing for over the last few months. BinaxNOW does not require an instrument and can produce test results in 15 minutes, at the cost of $5. Like most antigen tests, they may not be the most accurate, though. Results from antigen tests may need to be confirmed by a molecular test before any treatment commitments.
“This distribution of tens of millions of rapid tests is the fruit of President Trump’s effective national testing strategy, which draws on the best of the public and private sectors,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “Coordination among FDA, private test developers, federal public health leaders, and state leadership has allowed us to build the world’s largest and most effective testing system, supplying the right tests for the right circumstances.”
The government purchased the first 150 million of the tests on August 27, a day after the Food and Drug Administration provided the Abbott BinaxNOW test with an Emergency Use Authorization to provide the tests as necessary, with no need for governors to bid and compete for shipments.
“The Trump Administration has successfully prioritized scaling up point-of-care testing through deregulatory actions and strategic investments to facilitate the continued re-opening of our schools, businesses, and overall national economy,” Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir said. “The fact that point-of-care rapid tests now account for over half of the available tests on the open market is a major achievement. The tests are simple to use and cost-effective. Distributing BinaxNOW tests nationally will advance the testing needs of congregate living facilities, K-12 schools, critical infrastructure, and the other institutions critical to reopening America.”
Abbott Diagnostics says it will soon be able to make up to 48 million of the tests monthly, in the United States.