NORTH CHICAGO, IL – As demand for COVID-19 testing skyrockets during the omicron surge, Abbott Labs officials soon hope to manufacture twice as many BinaxNOW rapid test kits as the company produced at its peak from previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.
Robert Ford, CEO of Abbott, attributed the difficulty for consumers to find his company’s tests to the convergence of two factors.
“We’re seeing, obviously, a new variant, a fairly highly transmissible variant, in combination with a time of year when there’s a lot of travel – Thanksgiving and Christmas, people wanted to get together,” Ford said Thursday during ‘an interview with Bloomberg ON TV. “So the combination of these two factors has really had a pretty unprecedented demand here.”
Abbott first received emergency use authorization for the BinaxNOW coronavirus rapid test kits in August 2020. At the time, the company said they would be available for $ 5, although they were not initially available for home use. At the time the tests were cleared for home use in December 2020, the price was $ 25. Ford said the company produced up to 50 million tests per month in 2021.
“We saw cases decrease in early 2021, so we had to speed up our manufacturing,” Ford said. “But as delta resuscitated it in the United States, we quickly reengaged our manufacturing, we got back to 50 million. This month we’ll be making 70 million, and I’m working with my team every day to see if I can get us to 100 million. “
The company previously announced that it had recently reopened its manufacturing facility in Gurnee, which closed last summer, as well as adding new machines to automate parts of the manufacturing process and hiring more. of workers in Maine. Company representatives said in November that Abbott is already producing more than 50 million BinaxNOW tests per month with the potential to increase.
“The supply chain is difficult,” said the CEO. “It’s tough for a lot of companies in all industries, isn’t it? But we made sure to manufacture our tests here in the US, so we built three factories here in the US just to doing COVID testing, so that we had a little more control over our supply chain. “