Abbott's Rapid Coronavirus Test, Used on White House Officials, Misses Almost Half of Positive Infections, Study Finds

A rapid coronavirus test, used on White House officials, misses almost half of all positive infections, according to a new study by researchers at New York University.

In a pre-published study, NYU Langone Health researchers compared the test produced by Abbott Laboratories, which turns out positive tests within five minutes and negative cases within 13 minutes, with machines that return tests in 45 minutes. The authors said they probed the test for accuracy because its speedy turnaround could be useful for the institution's medical center's emergency department.

They found that the rapid Abbott test produced 48 percent false negative tests when the nasal swab used for the virus sample was dry and roughly 33 percent when the swab was placed in liquid solution. The company recommends the dry method to its customers.

The study "revealed low sensitivity with high false negative results by Abbott ID NOW platform" which raised concerns about the test's "suitability as a diagnostic tool for symptomatic patients," the study's authors wrote.

Abbott immediately disputed the study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, and claimed that the researchers may not have taken the samples correctly. "While no test is perfect, Abbott's ID NOW is delivering reliable results when and where they're needed most," Abbott spokesperson Scott Stoffel told Newsweek in a statement. "The test is performing as expected by the more than 1,000+ sites using ID NOW for COVID-19."

"The world needs a variety of tests in labs and at point of care, and as many as possible, if we are to help reduce the risk people have every single day of contracting the virus," he added.

Stoffel also asserted that the NYU study was "not consistent" with previous studies that show the tests as more accurate. "For example, in another recent study in Washington state, out of approximately 1,000 subjects there were 23 positive for COVID-19 on a lab test and ID NOW picked up 21, demonstrating 91% sensitivity and 100% specificity," he said.

While Abbott's assertion may be true, their tests have been called into question by other researchers over the past month. In April, Abbott instructed labs to refrain from storing samples in "viral transport media" before testing following allegations that the test produced many false negatives.

Following the study's release, shares in Abbott fell 1.8 percent to $92.16 in New York, according to Bloomberg.

President Donald Trump touted the Abbott testing machine on March 30, after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), saying it "delivers lightning-fast results in as little as five minutes." The White House also frequently uses the test on officials who come within close proximity to Trump.

This story has been updated with comment from Abbott spokesperson Scott Stoffel.

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U.S. President Donald Trump looks on he as meets with Colorado Governor Jared Polis and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum in the Cabinet Room of the White House on May 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty
Abbott's Rapid Coronavirus Test, Used on White House Officials, Misses Almost Half of Positive Infections, Study Finds | U.S.