No sooner was Abbott’s cheap, rapid antigen test for Covid-19 authorised by the FDA last week than the US government snapped up almost all of those that will be produced this year. The Department of Health and Human Services is to pay Abbott $760m for 150 million of the BinaxNow assays in an effort to sidestep the backlog reported by many diagnostics firms caused by the sheer number of tests that need to be processed. Abbott says it can make 50 million of the tests per month starting in October, plus around half that figure this month as it ramps up. The US is currently performing around 24 million tests a month – of all kinds, from all manufacturers – far too few, experts say, to have a hope of controlling the spread of the virus. Doubtless other groups are working on similar technologies, but the Covid-19 tests authorised in the past week mainly work on viral RNA. The most recent comes from T2 Biosystems, better known for its diagnostics for sepsis-causing pathogens. T2 claims sensitivity of 95% and specificity of 100% for the T2Sars-CoV-2 panel.
Note: "Other" includes four antigen tests, two home sampling kits and one IL-6 test.