Abbott Laboratories is currently running trials on its rapid coronavirus test to see if it can be used effectively in asymptomatic individuals, CEO Robert Ford told CNBC on Friday.
The company received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday for its new coronavirus antigen test, which it claims sells for $ 5 and can give results in 15 minutes, similar to a pregnancy test.
Abbott's newest product is a notable development as the US attempts to expand testing capacity for Covid-19 this fall. However, currently FDA approval for the test is limited. It can only be used within seven days of the onset of coronavirus symptoms and in consultation with a doctor. This means that it is not allowed to test presymptomatic people or people without symptoms.
The Illinois-based medical device company hopes to expand beyond current FDA approval, according to Ford.
"We're working on developing data for asymptomatic claims, so we're doing our clinical trial and we will eventually have data to support this," Ford said of Power Lunch in an interview with CNBC's Meg Tirrell.
An Abbott Labs spokeswoman said the company had no additional details about the clinical trials at this point.
Abbott's offering, called BinaxNOW, has the potential to dramatically reduce turnaround time on Covid-19 results in the US, which has had significant testing issues throughout the pandemic. No laboratory equipment is required for the test to provide results. This makes it portable and suitable for settings such as doctor's offices.
The US government has signed a contract for at least 150 million Abbott's tests with the hope of using them in nursing homes, schools, or other high-risk populations.
In a CNBC comment posted on Thursday, Ford stressed that rapid antigen tests like BinaxNOW are critical as they eliminate the need to wait for results. As Covid-19 cases soared this summer, widespread delays in laboratory-based test results were reported, which medical experts say are problematic as people need to know as soon as possible if they need to self-isolate.
"Rapid tests provide actionable results quickly, so infected patients can begin self-quarantine immediately. This test, along with similar tests, is a societal risk reduction," wrote Ford.
While Abbott is running its test for testing on asymptomatic individuals, Ford said Friday that Abbott believes it can be distributed and used in a number of beneficial environments.
"In the meantime, we see that it can be used because it doesn't require an instrument … by the federal government, by the state governments, by schools, by employers, or even by retail clinics," said Ford. "We think this is a great opportunity to set this volume up."
Abbott Labs' shares closed Friday's session at $ 110.79 apiece, but hit an all-time high of $ 114.20 during the session. The stock is up more than 25% in 2020.