Abbott Laboratories announced Wednesday the launch of its third test for the coronavirus and said it could be screening up to 20 million people for antibodies for COVID-19 by June.
Abbott said it plans to distribute 4 million of the new antibody tests by the end of this month, after an initial shipment of 1 million tests this week to US customers, beginning Thursday.
“Antibody testing is an important next step to tell if someone has been previously infected,” Abbott said in a press release.
“It will provide more understanding of the virus, including how long antibodies stay in the body and if they provide immunity,” the company said.
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Abbott’s two other coronavirus tests, which only recently were introduced, determine whether a person has COVID-19 now.
One of those tests can tell in 13 minutes or less if a person at a testing site is currently infected, while the other test is performed in labs.
The new antibody test announced Wednesday will reveal if a person also had been infected in the past, even if they were no longer sick.
Infectious disease experts have said that such antibody screenings, also called serological tests, will be needed to track the spread of the coronavirus in the United States and elsewhere, and to develop containment strategies.
“We continue to contribute in a significant and meaningful way by providing new solutions across our diagnostics testing platforms,” Abbott CEO Robert Ford said in a statement.
“I’m extremely proud of the many Abbott people who are working around the clock to get as many tests as we can to healthcare workers and patients.”
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