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Maine Lab To Release 5-Minute COVID-19 Test


A new 5-minute test for COVID-19 is being produced in Maine. Abbott Laboratories in Scarborough is expected to begin releasing the tests this week. They’re being lauded by President Donald Trump as a potential game changer in the fight against the coronavirus, but the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control is advising caution.

State CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah says the new test, which promises to give results on whether someone is infected with COVID-19 in as little as five minutes, is an exciting development.

“It’s a big step forward, no question about that,” he says.

The tests are designed to be used in clinics and emergency departments, augmenting testing currently being done at the state CDC lab, which currently has a backlog of more than 800 samples.

But during a daily press briefing on Monday, Shah was also cautious about their potential. With so many supplies needed to fight the coronavirus running low, he says more information is needed on the chemicals necessary to use the new tests, as well as the platform.

“And so we’ve always got to ask hard questions about what the expected supply chain is,” he says.

A spokesperson for Illinois-based Abbott says the testing kits are shipped with all the needed materials, and the company doesn’t anticipate any supply chain issues.

Abbott’s Scarborough facility will initially produce 50,000 tests per day and ramp up to more than 1 million per month. The first release is expected April 1.