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US lab unveils portable 5-minute COVID-19 test for use almost anywhere

US lab unveils portable 5-minute COVID-19 test for use almost anywhere

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Abbott Laboratories is unveiling a coronavirus test that can tell if someone is infected in as little as 5 minutes, and is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting.

The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting April 1, said John Frels, vice president of research and development at Abbott Diagnostics. The molecular test looks for fragments of the coronavirus genome, which can be detected in as little as five minutes when it’s present at high levels. A thorough search to definitively rule out an infection can take up to 13 minutes, he said.

How does the test work?

The test starts with taking a swab from the nose or the back of the throat, then mixing it with a chemical solution that breaks open the virus and releases its RNA. The mixture is inserted into an ID Now system, a small box weighing just under 7 pounds that has the technology to identify and amplify select sequences of the coronavirus genome and ignore contamination from other viruses.

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