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Abbott Labs Launches Antibody Test for Prior Coronavirus Infections

Abbott Laboratories is launching a test that determines whether a person has had the coronavirus.
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Abbott Laboratories  (ABT) - Get Abbott Laboratories Report said Wednesday that it was launching a test that determines whether a person has had the coronavirus, which will help health officials track the spread of the deadly disease.

Shares of the Abbott Park, Ill., company at last check were up 0.7% to $89.75.

The company said it would begin shipping the tests on Thursday and expected to ship close to 1 million tests this week to U.S. customers. It said it would ship a total of 4 million tests for April. Abbott said it is ramping up to 20 million tests in the U.S. in June and beyond.

The test looks for antibodies that show whether an individual's immune system has successfully fought off an infection with the virus that causes covid-19. 

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Abbott said the test would provide more understanding of the virus, including how long antibodies stay in the body and whether they provide immunity. This knowledge could help support the development of treatments and vaccines, the company said.

Molecular testing detects whether someone has the virus, while antibody tests determine whether someone was previously infected. Antibodies help determine whether a patient who has recovered will be protected against a repeat infection.

Abbott said the test identifies the particular antibody that the body produces in the late stages of infection and may remain for up to months and possibly years after a person has recovered.

This is the third in Abbott’s portfolio of tests for the virus. Last month, the company said it received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a coronavirus test that the company said can deliver positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.

Abbott is launching the test without formal clearance or authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.