Novel testing device can diagnose coronavirus in as little as 5 minutes

Finding quick ways to diagnose coronavirus is incredibly useful for frontline health workers who have to meet an overwhelming demand to test thousands of people for the virus each day.

Now, health care company Abbot Laboratories is unveiling a test for the virus that can tell if someone is infected in as little as five minutes, and is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting.

The test starts by 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 genetic structure. The mixture is then inserted into a small box weighing less than 7 pounds, which is able to identify the exact genome sequence of the coronavirus while ignoring contamination from other viruses.

Because of its conveniently small size, the equipment can be set up almost anywhere, but for now, the first devices are sent to places where they are most needed, such as hospital emergency rooms, urgent-care clinics, and doctors’ offices. The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day, starting April 1st.

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