Detroit to be first to deploy Abbott Labs’ 5-minute COVID-19 test, mayor says

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said today on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show that the city of Detroit is on track to be the first city to deploy Abbott Labs’ five-minute COVID-19 test. The mayor said that the test would be available for first responders. The goal, he said, was to allow those first responders who are self-isolating but have yet to test positive for the virus.

The city of Detroit received the Abbott Labs tests today, April 1. They will be available for use within the next 24 hours, the mayor said.

This system from Abbott received emergency clearance for use in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It’s a lab-in-a-box that is roughly the size of a small kitchen appliance. The small size and rapid test results mean it can be deployed and utilized more quickly than other methods.

The City of Detroit is getting hit, especially hard by the novel coronavirus. According to recent numbers, the counties around Detroit contain 81% of Michigan’s 7,615 coronavirus cases. Over 20% of the 2,500-strong police force is quarantined with suspected instances of Covid-19.

The significant number of cases in Detroit led the mayor to go outside of traditional channels to obtain the tests first.

As The Washington Post tells it, Mayor Mike Duggan secured the cellphone number of Miles White, the chairman and outgoing CEO of Abbot Labs, and woke him up Sunday morning to beg for the test. This early morning phone call netted the city five machines and 5,000 tests.

Today the company said in a tweet that it’s making the system available this week in an urgent care setting in the U.S. where the company already has instrumentation. Abbott Labs says it already holds the most significant molecular point-of-care footprint in the U.S.,” and is “widely available” across doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, emergency rooms, and other medical facilities.

Abbott expects it will be able to produce 5 million tests in April, split between the new rapid tests and traditional lab tests that received emergency authorization from the FDA on March 18.