President Trump will announce tonight at the RNC that the US Government will acquire 150 million of Abbott Laboratories rapid antigen test for $750 million ($5/test). These are intended to be “deployed” to nursing homes, schools and other areas with populations at high risk.
Abbott Laboratories has estimated that they will be able to produce 50 million of these tests monthly beginning in October. President Trump has previously stated that he would prefer less COVID-19 testing not more.
The US Government will be the sole purchaser of this reasonably priced, easily administered rapid test for the months of October, November and December. Preliminary data suggests that the test is quite accurate, with very robust sensitivity and specificity. Rather than being distributed to public health departments and healthcare providers, it will be up to your government as to who has access.
We previously encountered a lack of availability with Abbott’s IDNow platform – famously displayed by President Trump at a White House press conference. This too was allocated to ‘high risk’ areas identified by the Federal Government. Our clinic still is on a waiting list where we have been since March.
So the allocation of this exciting and reasonably priced testing technology will be in hands on an administration who just this week, convinced the CDC to advocate for testing only those individuals with symptoms – despite a well documented presymptomatic (but still infectious) phase of COVID-19. For the general public, perhaps some tests will become available in early 2021.