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Quick, portable immune system tests for coronavirus bolsters optimism about eventual return to work

FDA has given emergency approval for the immunity testing process

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coronavirus tests
Coronavirus testing in New York
(John Moore/Getty Images)
Updated: March 30, 2020 - 11:24am

President Trump expressed optimism Monday about so-called immunity testing helping slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Such tests detect whether people have been infected by the virus even after they have recovered by seeing whether they are still producing the antibodies to kill the virus. 

The president thinks the tests, which Germany is testing, could be helpful in getting Americans back to work because they show who is immune to the virus.

Abbott Laboratories late last week received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to get the tests into labs and healthcare facilities.

“I think it’s going to be a big help. We’re very close,” Trump said Monday on the Fox New Channel’s morning show “Fox and Friends.” “We are refining the final steps. They are having some tremendous success.”

The test by Abbott Labs uses nose or throat swabs, which are mixed with a chemical solution, then inserted into a small, portable device that can purportedly yield results within 13 minutes. 

The immunity testing in Germany would reportedly use tiny blood samples and start in April. 

Abbott's first tests are expected to be available next week, and the company reportedly plans to make 50,000 a day.