The evolution of COVID-19 rapid testing: 4 quotes from Abbott Executive Vice President Andrea Wainer

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Andrea Wainer, Abbott's Executive Vice President of Rapid and Molecular Diagnostics participated in a fireside chat during the Becker's Healthcare CEO and CFO Virtual Event in November. Ms. Wainer joined Abbott in 1997 and took her latest role in June 2019. 

Here are four quotes from the conversation:

Note: quotes have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

On handling the COVID-19 pandemic: It was the beginning of March that we knew the world needed us. They needed diagnostic manufacturers like Abbott to step forward and deliver COVID tests to fight the pandemic. By March, we knew this was different from other outbreaks that we had seen.

Since then, about 95 percent of my time was spent thinking about COVID. My team was focused on designing tests, developing tests, manufacturing tests, making sure we had supply continuity of those tests. And now, even a few months into the pandemic a good amount of my focus continues to be towards COVID and ensuring we’re providing healthcare workers with the tools they need to fight this pandemic.

On rapid testing and what it means in diagnostics: Everyone wants the test fast. They want test results fast so that we can make decisions quickly. Particularly with this pandemic where there's such contagiousness. It's important that people understand their status so they can quickly go into quarantine so they can protect others.

With COVID testing, we are setting a new standard. People are realizing the importance and need for fast diagnostic answers. This is what healthcare professionals need during this time. And it is going to set new expectations beyond COVID-19. We can now take these learnings and use these rapid testing tools to deal with other illnesses and testing needs.

On COVID-19 rapid test results, accuracy and reliability: When we develop any test, we make sure that it has the level of reliability that we expect. This remains true even in a pandemic. It’s important to understand how to best use the different tests to realize their impact. Having different tests working in different settings is what is really making a difference – from highly sensitive lab-based PCR tests to rapid antigen tests that don’t require any instrumentation. We’ve been focused across these areas.

On game changers for better testing in the United States: We've introduced a few game changers throughout this pandemic. Early in the pandemic it became clear that we were going to need more than just laboratory testing. We needed something portable that could deliver a fast result. That’s when we decided to introduce a test on ID NOW, which is a portable instrument the size of a toaster that can deliver a result within 15 minutes. It made an immediate impact and it’s playing a critical role today.

The next introduction that really was a game-changer was the introduction of BinaxNOW, our rapid antigen test. It's a game-changer because we can provide much more scale, at a low price and a fast answer with no instrumentation, which is what's needed now.

We launched BinaxNOW with a complimentary mobile app called NAVICA, and this is really what we see as that next step. What the app does when used with BinaxNOW is it provides people that have tested negative an entry pass. It's like a boarding pass when you get on an airplane. Testing will continue to be important even once vaccines are made available so we will continue to develop new innovations.

To view a recording of this session, click here.


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