President Trump has revealed a new coronavirus testing device that can deliver results in as little as five minutes — far quicker than current tests, which take up to a week.
The Abbott Laboratories “5 Minute” COVID-19 test kit will be available in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms and drive-through sites within the next month, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn announced Monday.
“Just like tests for flu or strep where you go to the doctor’s office so you can get a test done, you can get an answer within minutes of having this test done,” Hahn said during Trump’s coronavirus task force briefing in the Rose Garden on Monday.
The testing cartridge “fits into the company’s portable ID NOW device, which is used at hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices,” Fox News reported. “The company said it would launch the test next week to select health-care facilities delivering urgent care.”
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) March 30, 2020
Current tests for COVID-19 take up to a week to deliver results. But since the outbreak in the U.S., researchers have been working double time to produce a quicker test. Hahn said the new test would usually take 12 months to go through all the hoops and hit the market, but with support from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the test was approved in weeks.
“The numbers have been incredible on testing but in the days ahead we’re going to go even faster,” Trump told reporters.
Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] also announced on Monday that the U.S. has tested more than 1 million people for COVID-19, which Trump said was “a milestone in our war against the coronavirus.”
The president also had good news for health care workers struggling with the short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). The FDA, Trump said, has made a breakthrough that will allow health care workers to sterilize N95 respiratory masks, which filter out 95% of airborne material.
New machines made by an Ohio company called Battelle can disinfect 120,000 masks every day. “I’ve been asking, ‘Why are we throwing these masks away?’ ” Trump said.
Trump also announced that Ford Motor Co. will adapt an auto-parts factory near Detroit to build ventilators, also in short supply in hospitals.
“The automaker says that starting the week of April 20, it expects to produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days. The plant in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, would have the ability to build 30,000 per month after that. Ford also is working with GE Healthcare to double production of a more sophisticated ventilator at a factory in Madison, Wisconsin,” Fox News reported.
Trump, who last week optimistically hoped for the U.S. returning to normal by Easter Sunday (April 12) but later pushed that back to April 30, also urged Americans to continue to practice social distancing.
“By very vigorously socially distancing, we can save more than one million American lives,” he said. “The sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus and the fate of our victory.”
On Monday, Trump said he changed his estimate after hearing from public health experts to extend the guidelines. “The economy is number two, my focus is saving people’s lives,” he said.