Abbott Laboratories is launching a laboratory-based blood test designed to detect antibodies to identify whether someone has had the Coronavirus strain COVID-19.
The antibody test, which will run on Abbott’s Architect i1000SR and i2000SR laboratory instruments found in hospitals and big reference labs, is different than diagnostic tests Abbott and other companies have launched that test whether a person has the Coronavirus strain COVID-19. Rather, this antibody testing will look for whether “someone has previously been infected,” the company said in an announcement Wednesday.
Antibody testing is considered the next wave in U.S. diagnostic testing amid the pandemic because someone who has already been infected may be able to return to work. And in the case of healthcare workers, they could continue to treat sick patients.
Abbott said it will ship nearly 1 million tests this week to U.S. customers while ramping up manufacturing to ship 4 million tests in total in April. By June and beyond, Abbott said it will be shipping 20 million tests in the U.S. per month.
“Antibody testing is an important next step to tell if someone has been previously infected,” Abbott said in its announcement. “It will provide more understanding of the virus, including how long antibodies stay in the body and if they provide immunity. This type of knowledge could help support the development of treatments and vaccines.”
To be sure, U.S. health officials have said antibody testing is critical to re-opening the economy and avoiding future drastic mitigation strategies underway now like sheltering in place or closing down schools.
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