Omicron Variant, Travel Led to Spike in Testing Demand, Abbott CEO Says
(Bloomberg) -- Abbott Laboratories’ top executive said that the company is ramping up production of its Covid-19 tests after the convergence of a highly contagious variant with the holiday travel season led to an unprecedented surge in demand.
Chief Executive Officer Robert Ford said that Abbott expects to produce 70 million of its at-home BinaxNOW tests this month, and that “I am working with my team every day to see if we can get us to 100 million.”
The omicron variant has spread widely, driving daily new case counts to pandemic records. The rapid spread of the new strain has stressed the U.S. virus-testing infrastructure, with drugstores putting limits on how many at-home tests people can purchase and long lines for screening forming at clinics that do more traditional lab-based tests.
“We’re working with the White House, with different governors to make sure every test we make does not sit in our inventory,” Ford said on Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Television from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Shares of Abbott, which gained 28% last year, were up 0.3% at $135.54 at 3:29 pm. in New York.
Abbott’s BinaxNOW is one of the best-known of the rapid antigen tests authorized for use in the U.S. Demand for rapid tests has been running high since the emergence of the omicron variant in the U.S. last month, but supplies have been short, leading to frustration among consumers and vows from companies and politicians to speed access.
Also on Thursday, Abbott said it is developing new wearable technology designed to track glucose, ketones, lactate and other physical metrics to help people better understand their health. The technology, called Lingo, builds on Abbott’s diabetes-monitoring products.
Ford said in the interview that Lingo would help consumers take more active control of their own health.
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