MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama will soon have more COVID-19 testing options. The state has received 15 rapid testing devices, called Abbott ID Now instruments. These can determine whether someone has the virus in less than 15 minutes.
Despite the immediate response, however, it won’t replace the state’s current testing model.
“This will be is an additional enhancement,” stated Dr. Karen Landers, M.D., with the Alabama Department of Public Health. “Now we have to remember that with these rapid tests, if you will, you can only put a few tests in the machine at a time. So it’s not going to be able to run large volumes of test.”
Landers believes these devices could be useful in a hospital setting to quickly determine how to care for the patient and whether the use of personal protective gear is appropriate for their care.
“The rapid nature of this test could be very helpful,” she explained. “In situations where the rapid knowing of the positivity of the test would change in terms of the way you manage the patient.”
There’s no public lab currently offering same day test results. Alabama’s Bureau of Clinical Laboratories runs about 300 tests a day from across the state. The turnaround time after the specimens arrive varies between 24 to 72 hours.
“Going forward with this virus and with the detection of this virus, it’s going to be important to continue to have testing available whether it’s through Bureau of Clinical Laboratories, whether it’s through commercial labs, or whether it’s through having this rapid test platform out in different parts of the state,” Landers said.
The manufacturer is working to produce around 50,000 tests a day, but it's still not expected to meet the demand.
“We would like to see more of this, but we go back to the point that the company has only recently received emergency use authorization,” Landers said. “We don’t have all the reagents yet.”
Reagents are the materials used to run the test.
“Since this is a new test, the company is ramping up to be able to get not only the machines out, but also the materials out for the specimens to be placed in and then put into the machine.”
It’s unclear where ADPH will deploy the 15 instruments or when the tests will be online.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Alabama has confirmed more than 4,000 cases of the virus with 75 deaths from about 34,000 tests.