New FDA-Approved $5 COVID-19 Antigen Test Doesn't Need a Computer

And the results are ready in 15 minutes.
Fabienne Lang

In order to increase the number of people tested for the coronavirus, pharmaceutical companies and laboratories have been working hard to come up with fast, efficient, and safe methods. 

Now, the first rapid antigen coronavirus test that doesn't require a special computer to read the results has been created. The FDA approved the use of the test on Wednesday, which is developed by Abbott Laboratories.

Affordable and fast

Abbott's test, called BinaxNOW, will only cost $5 and the results are ready in just 15 minutes. There are other similar tests that are offered at competitive pricing, but this is the only one currently available without needing a specific computer system to read the results.


This new test is handy and uses the same technology needed to test for the flu or strep. 

Even though the test doesn't need a machine, it still needs medical staff to carry out the nasal swab, so has to be carried out either at a medical office, hospital, or some schools. The hope is to help get society back up and running more quickly and safely. 

It has to be pointed out, though, that fast tests such as Abbott's aren't as accurate as laboratory-run ones, per CBS News. Even if results come back negative from this new testing system, the FDA cautions that people may need to go for further testing. The test is currently available to those who believe they have COVID-19. 

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BinaxNOW tests for COVID-19 antigens, and not the virus itself. The testing system consists of a small coated strip that interacts with the COVID-19 antigens. The card shows markings once a nasal swab is inserted into it including drops from a specific chemical. These markings show whether the sample is positive or negative. 

Tens of millions of the tests will be shipped by Abbott starting next month, with the hope of achieving 50 million tests per month as of October, per the company's statement.