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Doctor: New COVID-19 rapid tests will benefit Florida if used properly

The rapid test called ID NOW COVID-19 created by Abbott Diagnostics gives results in 15 minutes. It's best used with those who are symptomatic.

TAMPA, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis showed the newest tool being used in the state's fight against coronavirus Tuesday afternoon.

The rapid test called ID NOW COVID-19 created by Abbott Diagnostics gives results in 15 minutes.

“They're an antigen test, so they detect the protein. They're also not as sensitive as the kind of gold standard PCR tests that we do in the clinical labs,” Dr. Michael Teng said.

The virologist with USF Public Health says it's most effective in those with COVID-19 symptoms. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization 20 days ago. The test was approved for anyone who has suspected symptoms within the first seven days of the onset of symptoms.

“After you get past seven days, it's not as good. That's because you don't have as much virus. It is all dependent on how much virus is replicating in you,” Teng said.

That’s why Teng says the test has to be sent to the right areas of the state.

“If you get it to the right populations, to test the same, those populations over time, then these are going to be very, very useful. I would certainly try to protect the more vulnerable populations, the elderly, and long term assisted living facilities,” Teng said. 

Teng says the tests won't benefit schools and state-run test sites. Despite that, DeSantis says two batches of 60,000 will go to school districts and testing sites across the state. About 280,000 tests will go to senior communities and long term care facilities.

“It'll have to be one of those things that you don't just get this one test and then go away for several weeks. I think this is one of those tests that you have to keep doing over time on the same people,” Teng said.

If you do take a rapid test, get a negative result, but have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, Teng recommends you get tested several times to make sure you don't have the virus.

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