Abbott launches antibody tests, shipping 4 million in April

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Action News coverage of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak

Abbott Labs is rolling out a new lab-based antibody test.

It will begin shipping the test kits tomorrow, with a goal of sending out 4 million this month, then 20 million a month from June onward.

The processing machine is already FDA-cleared to run everything from cardiac tests other those for other infectious diseases.

Only the test kit module is new.

Abbott has asked the FDA for OK to use the test on an emergency basis.

The agency is also fast-tracking several other tests developed at university labs.

However, after loosening restrictions on selling these tests, the agency is now tightening enforcement on the 70-some companies selling them.

The antibody blood tests hold a lot of promise, which is why dozens of companies of now developing them, including Abbott.

The idea is instead of looking for active infection, this blood test will detect if you had the infection in the past.

We know some people were not able to be tested when they were sick and we also know a good percentage of people may not have any symptoms.

What's still unclear is how accurate the tests are... and if a positive test really means you are immune and safe to be out in the community.

"All an antibody tests tells us is you were exposed and your body made antibodies. History, science and hope tell us you should be immune to the virus, still its crucial to know how many people had it that's why we want to as many people tested as possible for antibodies," says ABC News Medical Contributor Dr. Mark Abdelmalek.

Scientists have yet to determine if you have antibodies, whether you are truly immune.

There have been reports of people being re-infected overseas but those reports have not been verified.