Abbott Begins Hiring to Produce Its New Rapid Covid Test

Abbott Laboratories has begun hiring for facilities in Illinois and Maine that will make the pharmaceutical firm’s new rapid COVID-19 test.

The Illinois site is expected to fill 2,000 new positions. The plant in Westbrook, Maine will hire 1,200 workers. Most of the jobs will be temporary, but are likely to extend well into next year based on the company’s announced production schedule.

Abbott was contracted by the federal government to produce 150 million tests at $5 each. Called BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, Abbott says the test delivers reliable results in just 15 minutes. The most commonly available current tests take two or more days for results, sometimes even up to a week, depending on where the test was done.

Like other tests, Abbott’s requires taking a nasal swab. Trained workers activate the test kit, inserting the swab into a “test well” in a credit card-sized cardboard test card. Results are ready in 15 minutes. The presence of a COVID infection shows up as two pink/purple lines.

Use of the test is intended for individuals “suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider within the first seven days of symptom onset,” said the Food and Drug Administration.

The test was fast tracked by the FDA, getting emergency approval on August 26. The following day, the government announced the deal to acquire a supply of the tests for $750 million.

Abbott has also created Navica, an app allowing those who test negative to demonstrate their COVID status. Abbott says it will serve as a “digital ‘boarding pass’ that can be scanned to enter organizations and other places where people gather.”

Most of the new jobs don’t require any technical experience. Abbott said it will provide all the training production workers will need.

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