FDA authorizes 15-minute coronavirus test

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorization for a new coronavirus test that takes just 15 minutes to complete.

The test's maker, Abbott, announced the news Friday evening in a press release, saying it plans to start delivering 50,000 tests per day starting next week. 

Abbott will run the tests on its point-of-care ID NOW platform, a portable platform that weighs less than 7 pounds and can be deployed to coronavirus hotspots. The company said it expects to produce about 5 million tests per month. 

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It marks one of the fastest tests for COVID-19 available and comes just a week after the FDA approved another 45-minute rapid point-of-care test.

The approval comes as cities across the nation scramble to get testing done and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The United States on Thursday became the country with the largest number of cases, surpassing China and Italy, and on Friday, the U.S. hit more than 100,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19. 

The availability of testing has been a point of contention as the pandemic has unfolded. On Friday health officials in Arizona warned that the state may soon be unable to continue testing people for COVID-19 because of a lack of testing kits.

The outbreak is expected to worsen in the coming days and weeks as the upward trajectory continues. The U.S. is now adding more than 14,000 new cases per day.

Experts say that a key factor in ending the spread of the virus and reopening the economy is to dramatically increase testing capacity. With increased testing, measures like keeping everyone at home can be replaced with more targeted identification and isolation of sick people.