Coronavirus: Rapid tests now being produced by 2 Ohio firms

Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center jointly developed a new rapid test for COVID-19, which delivers results in about five hours. Rapid-results testing is starting to be deployed but overall Ohio’s testing capacity needs to be increased, state officials have said.
Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center jointly developed a new rapid test for COVID-19, which delivers results in about five hours. Rapid-results testing is starting to be deployed but overall Ohio’s testing capacity needs to be increased, state officials have said.

Two organizations with large operations in Ohio — Battelle Memorial Institute and Abbott Laboratories — have developed rapid-results testing for COVID-19.

Ohio State University and Battelle jointly developed a test to diagnose COVID-19 that will turn around results in as few as five hours. Initially the system will process 200 tests per day but will be ramped up to handle more than 1,000 test swabs per day.

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The new test will be administered at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center, which is adjacent to Battelle’s Columbus headquarters.

Dr. Hal Paz, chief executive at Wexner Medical Center, said in a written statement: “Our physicians and nurses are eager to start administering these tests that will greatly increase our capacity to diagnose more people and assist us in finding solutions for this disease. Testing is just one of more than 50 new research areas aimed at combating COVID-19 underway at the Wexner Medical Center. We are working hand in hand with Battelle on many of these critical projects.”

Abbott received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its ID NOW COVID-19 test, which can deliver positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.

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Abbott ID NOW is a portable instrument that can be deployed to doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics and other point-of-care settings. The instrument weighs 6.6 pounds and is the size of a toaster.

Abbott is manufacturing the ID NOW COVID-19 tests now with plans to deliver 50,000 tests per day.

Abbott also received FDA approval for a COVID-19 test system for hospitals and reference labs.

Testing for COVID-19 requires a doctor’s order. Ohio has limited testing to front line health care workers and patients at high risk for serious complications. As of April 2, Ohio had administered 34,918 tests, with 2,902 positives, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Results from samples sent to private labs have been lagging as much as a week.

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“When someone is tested, please send your samples to either a neighboring hospital that does quick testing and can get results back to you quickly or send them to the Ohio Department of Health,” DeWine said this week. “I don’t think it’s acceptable as we go through this crisis to be in a situation where we are waiting for five and six days. Unfortunately, that is what we are seeing from the outside labs that some of you have contracts with.”

ODH can turn around test results in less than 24 hours and sometimes as quick as eight hours, he said.

“There is nothing wrong with the private labs. They do good work. But they are behind. We are not,” DeWine said.