COVID-19

FDA issues alert about accuracy of Abbott rapid COVID-19 test

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder May 15, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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For now, negative results from the Abbott test should be confirmed with another more sensitive test. Win McNamee/Getty Images
COVID-19

FDA issues alert about accuracy of Abbott rapid COVID-19 test

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder May 15, 2020
For now, negative results from the Abbott test should be confirmed with another more sensitive test. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Share Now on:
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Public health experts say one key to managing the pandemic is frequent testing and retesting for COVID-19. But federal regulators have raised a question about the accuracy of a new test that produces rapid results.

As it happens, that Abbott Laboratories test is being used on those who work at the White House. Abbott stock was down 3% in pre-market trading on Friday.

“The concern is that it could be returning false negative results,” Marketplace’s Nova Safo said. “New York University researchers took a look and said earlier this week that the test was returning false negatives, that it was missing nearly half of all positive samples collected with dry nasal swabs.”

On Thursday the FDA issued an alert saying it’s looking into that finding. Abbott’s ID Now test is a rapid diagnostic tool that’s supposed to return results in a few minutes.

In the meantime, the FDA says negative results from the Abbott test should be confirmed with another more sensitive test, Safo told “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

False negatives are not a new problem during this pandemic. When China was testing the population in Wuhan, there were also reports of a lot of false negative results there.

Abbott does dispute the NYU study. The company says other studies have shown its rapid diagnostic system gets better results than the other tests that are out there.

The FDA has approved dozens of emergency authorizations to get COVID-19 diagnostic supplies out to market, though others take longer to return results than the Abbott test does.

So far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10 million viral tests have been conducted in the U.S., and 15% have come back positive.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

Which states are reopening?

Many states have started to relax the restrictions put in place in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Although social-distancing measures still hold virtually everywhere in the country, more than half of states have started to phase out stay-at-home orders and phase in business reopenings. Others, like New York, are on slower timelines.

Is it worth applying for a job right now?

It never hurts to look, but as unemployment reaches levels last seen during the Great Depression and most available jobs are in places that carry risks like the supermarket or warehouses, it isn’t a bad idea to sit tight either, if you can.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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