Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen
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:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
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
Heard on:
For now, negative results from the Abbott test should be confirmed with another more sensitive test. Win McNamee/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.