The Race to Develop COVID-19 Tests

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The Race to Develop COVID-19 Tests
The rapid tests were fast-tracked through the FDA via Emergency Use Authorization, along with about two dozen other COVID-19 tests.
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“We have something from Abbott labs, which is right here.”

COVID-19 tests made by Abbott Laboratories, and touted by President Trump last week, are now available via drive-thru sites in Rhode Island and Georgia. 

People who think they’re sick or have a doctor’s referral can log on and, if they qualify, make an appointment.  Medical professionals from CVS’ Minute Clinics administer the tests.

“It's known as a point of care test. That means that essentially you have a platform, you have a cartridge and you put a single specimen in the cartridge and it runs it through to see if, if you get a result or not. “

Abbott says the test can deliver positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes. The rapid tests were fast-tracked through the FDA via Emergency Use Authorization, along with about two dozen other COVID-19 tests. The accuracy of Abbott’s test is unknown. 

Another type of test, known as RT-PCR, or real time PCR, is based on the detection of nucleic acid, something only specific labs can test for - meaning results can take hours to days. 

“We want to be able to run our tests anywhere in the world.”

Researchers at Purdue University are hoping to take it a step further, working with manufacturers on two types of take-home tests that people could buy in a store. 

Professors Mohit Verma and Jackie Linnes are leading the research.

“What both of us are trying to do really is take the accuracy that you can get with this lab based nucleic acid test, but put it in something as simple as a pregnancy test.”

“So if you are infected, you have two lines, if you're not infected, you have one line.” 

That at-home test would cost between one and five dollars. The hope is this research could easily be used again, should there be another pandemic. 

“Let's say it evolves next year or like if it's a new virus, you can kind of use the same approach and design a new test for that new virus because targeting nucleic acids becomes fairly simple. Once we have this pipeline going,” 

Purdue says their technology is about 3 months away. 

Amber Strong, Newsy, in Northern Virginia.