Today at the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Ford highlighted the role testing will play as Abbott’s BinaxNow rapid antigen test and other over-the-counter testing options remain in high demand.
The need for tests is significant enough that the Biden administration has ordered for eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month to be covered by insurance.
“It was clear maybe because of that full-year 2020 that people really wanted to kind of believe that the silver bullet — the vaccine — will clear it all up,” Ford said, as transcribed by SeekingAlpha. “And I think it took [the delta variant of COVID-19] for us to ultimately realize that there is no silver bullet and that you have to have vaccines, therapeutics and testing.”
Ford said Abbott established a “leadership position” with COVID-19 testing, having a PCR system for lab-based testing and the popular BinaxNow rapid antigen test, for which the company foresaw sustainability and currently manufactures well over 100 million tests per month.
“We all saw this Thanksgiving, Christmas, a very big surge in testing, both on symptomatic testing and in PCR, and you see it in our rapid molecular testing also, the use of those technologies to be able to kind of do rapid diagnosing,” Ford said. “And then on the screening side with the rapid antigen test, there’s also a big, big demand also there. So [it’s a] big surge, whether it’s here in the U.S. or internationally, a very strong surge again also for both diagnosing and screening.”
Ford said forecasting the continued demand for testing is difficult, but the company maintains the capacity to support both U.S. and international demand.
The coming weeks will help the company better understand how to guide for 2022 and plan for when testing may eventually ramp down, but a portion will need to be sustained.
“An interesting kind of strategic play for us is to use the portfolio of products that we have and really kind of start to build a more sustainable rapid point-of-care, rapid diagnostic business not only that goes straight to the consumer, but also into other channels outside of the four walls of the hospital,” Ford said. “Abbott’s working is non-stop. We’ve got a lot of capacity. We’ve obviously had a pretty strong last couple of months of testing, and we expect that to continue here in the more immediate future.”