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Coronavirus tests produced in Maine give quick results

By Joe Lawlor, staff writer, Portland Press Herald | Mar 30, 2020
Courtesy of: Abbott Laboratories

A Maine laboratory helped design and is mass producing a new COVID-19 test that will give results within minutes.

National public health experts are already calling the made-in-Maine tests a potential “game changer” in the fight against novel coronavirus.

The tests – about 50,000 produced per day – are being made solelyat Abbott’s Scarborough plant, starting this week. The Scarborough location has worked for years on rapid-fire flu tests that are used around the world.

Norman Moore, scientific affairs director for Abbott’s Scarborough location, told the Press Herald in a phone interview this morning that production will ramp up this week. They were able to quickly move from an idea to producing the new tests because they are using similar testing equipment that they already use for influenza testing.

The tests will have all of the components necessary for health care workers to use as soon as they receive them, Moore said.

“This is really an historic moment,” Moore said. “The feeling that we have being able to make these tests this quickly is quite amazing.”

Abbott, an Illinois-based company that has a laboratory and manufacturing plant in Scarborough, will start producing the tests April 1, with a capacity to do 50,000 tests per day, or more than a million per month. Called ID NOW, the test, which is about the size of a toaster, can produce a positive test within five minutes and a negative test within 15 minutes.

The tests will be immediately shipped to hard-hit areas of the country, such as New York and Michigan, but some could soon also be used in Maine. Abbott officials said they would provide more information on how soon and to what extent the tests could be available in Maine later today.

“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,” said Robert Ford, president and chief operating officer of Abbott, in a news release. “With rapid testing on ID NOW , healthcare providers can perform a molecular point-of-care testing outside of the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hot spots.”

Abbott makes rapid tests not only for influenza, but also to detect other common infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, strep, a respiratory virus and HIV.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Mar 31, 2020 07:42

Wow! As Maine goes, so goes the nation. Congratulations on this innovation that could limit the virus spread.

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