The Trump administration will announce a $750 million vaccine deal with Abbott for the purchase of 150 million rapid coronavirus tests.
The vaccine deal with Abbott is part of a $750 million agreement with Abbott Laboratories, according to a White House official.
The source added that the president will use his speech at the Republican National Convention for the announcement of the deal.
“This is a major development that will help our country to remain open, get Americans back to work, and kids back to school,” White House communications director Alyssa Farah said in a statement to CNBC. “The Trump Administration is proud to partner with Abbott labs to make this purchase possible to help the American people.” This news was first reported by Politico.
The Food and Drug Administration granted Abbott emergency use authorization late Wednesday for its new coronavirus antigen test.
The antigen test is the first coronavirus test that is only about $5 and presents results in minutes on a testing card without the use of any lab equipment. It works like a pregnancy test.
Shares of Abbott ended up nearly 8%, closing at an all-time high of $111.29. The company now has a market cap of about $197 billion.
According to Abbott, it will “ship tens of millions of tests in September, ramping production to 50 million tests a month in October.”
50 million tests monthly
A statement released by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany about the purchase of the rapid tests states that “Through Operation Warp Speed and in partnership with Abbott Laboratories, final production will be scaled to an unprecedented 50 million tests monthly.”
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Department of Health and Human Services said that the rapid tests will be “potentially deployed to schools and to assist with serving other special needs populations.”
“By strategically distributing 150 million of these tests to where they’re needed most, we can track the virus like never before and protect millions of Americans at risk in especially vulnerable situations,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.
Molecular tests are considered the most accurate on the market but they utilize technical lab equipment, trained personnel, and a strained supply chain, which makes ramping up molecular tests difficult.
Eliminating the waiting game
“Due to the potential for decreased sensitivity compared to molecular assays, negative results from an antigen test may need to be confirmed with a molecular test prior to making treatment decisions,” the FDA said in its authorization of the BinaxNOW test.
“Negative results from an antigen test should be considered in the context of clinical observations, patient history and epidemiological information,” the agency said.
The test is only authorized for use in patients suspected to have Covid-19 and “within seven days of symptom onset,” the FDA states.
“This test could be used at point-of-care settings, like a doctor’s office, emergency room or some schools,” the FDA said. “Given the simple nature of this test, it is likely that these tests could be made broadly available.”
“Rapid antigen tests perform well while eliminating the waiting game,” Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford said in an op-ed published earlier Thursday by CNBC. “Rapid tests deliver actionable results quickly so that infected patients can immediately begin self-quarantine. This test, along with others like it, is risk reduction on a societal scale.”