On Monday, Abbott (No. 10 on DiversityInc 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) announced it had developed a test delivered on its ID NOW machine that can detect the coronavirus (COVID-19) in as little as five minutes. Shortly thereafter, its stock soared.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for the fastest molecular point-of-care test for COVID-19. This new test can deliver positive results in as little as five minutes, and negative results in 13 minutes. The FDA’s EUAs allow the administration to quickly approve the use of previously unapproved products — or the unapproved use of previously approved products — during an emergency.
Abbott’s test, delivered on the ID NOW machine, is the second rapid point-of-care test approved recently. Last week, the life sciences conglomerate Danaher’s stocks climbed after it came out with a test that could deliver results in 45 minutes.
The ID NOW weighs 6.6 pounds and is about the size of a small toaster. Its portability will allow the COVID-19 test to be administered on the front lines where the ID NOW device is already widely in use: in doctor’s offices, hospitals and urgent care clinics. The molecular diagnostic technology the COVID-19 tests use is valued for its accuracy.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will be fought on multiple fronts, and a portable molecular test that offers results in minutes adds to the broad range of diagnostic solutions needed to combat this virus,” Abbott CEO and president Robert B. Ford said in a statement. “With rapid testing on ID NOW, healthcare providers can perform molecular point-of-care testing outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.”
By midday Monday, Abbott’s shares were up 7.2% and the S&P 500 was up 2.6%. The average stock price soared to more than $80 a share, where it remained as of Tuesday. Healthcare developments like Abbott’s have contributed to high points in the stock market over the past few days, but as of Tuesday, the Dow was on track for its worst quarter on record.
Abbot said the test would become available within the next week to health care providers. Senior vice president of Rapid Diagnostics, Chris Scoggins said in a statement that Abbott expects to deliver 50,000 of these tests per day. Abbott is working with the FDA to deliver these tests to the hardest-hit areas.
The ID NOW platform, which many frontline medical providers already use, can also run tests to detect illnesses like certain strains of strep and the flu.
In addition to this point-of-care testing, Abbott also offers a COVID-19 test on an instrument called the m2000 RealTime System, which can run 470 COVID-19 tests in a day. This test was approved by the FDA via an EUA on March 18. Other pharmaceutical and healthcare companies also sell similar machines.