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
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

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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