Rapid testing for the novel coronavirus that's responsible for at least 100,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. is getting an important upgrade. Abbott (ABT 1.20%) recently received an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a test that can provide results in just five minutes.    

The fastest test yet

Abbott isn't the first company in the U.S. to launch a point-of-care coronavirus test, but the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test is much quicker than the competition. On March 22, Danaher (DHR 0.12%) received a EUA for a test that can provide a result in about 45 minutes.

COVID-19 test blood sample

Image source: Getty Images.

This is Abbott's second EUA for a COVID-19 test this month. About a week ago, the FDA green-lighted a test that runs on systems generally limited to laboratories and hospitals.

Ramping up

According to Abbott, more ID NOW machines are available to run its new COVID-19 test than any other point-of-care molecular diagnostic platform. Since its launch in 2014, the toaster-size nucleic acid amplification machine has become popular in doctor's offices and urgent care centers across the U.S.

The ID NOW platform is already the most common method that American healthcare providers use to check patients for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, which means Abbott should be able to dramatically ramp up test availability. For both platforms combined, the company expects to produce around 5 million tests per month.

Next week, Abbott will begin making ID NOW COVID-19 tests available to urgent care centers in an attempt to create the greatest immediate impact, with wider distribution to follow.