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New COVID-19 test Gamechanger

BinaxNOW

Federal government purchases 150 million of a new COVID-19 test and Florida wants in

A new rapid COVID-19 test called BinaxNOW has recently hit the market and Florida state experts are urging Governor Ron DeSantis to secure tests from the U.S. government

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new rapid COVID-19 test called BinaxNOW. The test was formulated by a company called Abbott which is dedicated to building technologies that change lives for the better. Although the expected availability is unknown, the U.S. federal government has purchased 150 million tests at a price of $750 million, according to the President. 

While this is a largescale number, each BinaxNOW test costs only $5, which is a fraction of the cost of the current tests being administered, the price of which ranges from $50 to $120 each. 

The BinaxNOW test is a nasal swab that can return results in 15 minutes. Because there is not a lab or personnel needed to process the test, it has potential to be used for students returning to school, workers going back to their jobs, and even sports audiences. 

According to the state’s emergency manager, Jared Moskowitz, BinaxNOW is beneficial due to the sensitivity and quickness it has. The current tests being used to detect the virus do not have both speed and sensitivity, which makes BinaxNOW “the game-changer.”

In addition to the test, Abbott plans to use a mobile app which will scan results when a person enters a space of large gatherings. The app will act as a “boarding pass” to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

Up until now, the state of Florida has been using two different tests. The molecular (or PCR) test, which has a high sensitivity, requires healthcare professionals for administration and a lab to process results. This version of the COVID-19 test can cost up to $120 per test. 

The other test is the antigen test, which costs $50 per test due to its ability to be self-administered. However, because it is less sensitive, a negative result could potentially be due to a missed infection. 

Abbott’s test combines the two, creating a test with a 97 percent sensitivity rate, which means that it can detect the virus in 97 out of every 100 people. However, a drawback of the BinaxNOW exam is that it cannot be used on asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers, which is still an area that the nation lacks expertise in. 

However, according to Michael Mina of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, while BinaxNOW will not bring frequent testing to the state of Florida just yet, it is the first step to that goal. 

“This is a great start to get this type of test into use for evaluation to eventually get us where we need to be”.

Michael Mina

This is why Moskowitz is urging Governor Ron DeSantis to begin to secure tests from the 150 million that the federal government has purchased. Gathering tests from the government would not only save the state of Florida money, but it could potentially lead to a better contact tracing system where people who may have been exposed to the virus will be tested and isolated as needed, in order to limit the spread. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or believe you have been exposed to someone with the virus, visit Miami-Dade's website for information on where to get tested. 

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