Coronavirus tests and their discontents

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Good afternoon, readers.

This week, drug and medical device giant Abbott announced that it had produced yet another coronavirus test. But this one comes with a twist.

Abbott’s previous tests were meant to suss out active coronavirus infections (including a point-of-care test that can return results within five to 13 minutes—though the availability of those tests are, well, complicated).

This latest Abbott COVID-19 diagnostic, however, is a so-called antibody test. It’s a blood test which can detect whether or not you’ve recovered from a coronavirus infection.

Why is that significant? It’s a key indicator of who can possibly return to the re-opening of society and businesses. Someone who’s recovered will (probably) have immunity to the pathogen for a while, according to multiple sources I’ve spoken with.

But that science is still unclear—and the specter of subpar tests looms large. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn has regularly been warning of fake COVID-19 testing kits for the past three weeks. In general, the efficacy of various tests, whether they be antibody test or others, will take months to determine.

And it’s important to remember that none of these tests are actually approved by the FDA—emergency authorization is a whole different animal. I explored this at length last week in a piece about the various coronavirus diagnostics hitting the scene. Even that picture has changed in a rapidly shifting scenario.

Read on for the day’s news, and see you again next week.

Sy Mukherjee
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com
@the_sy_guy

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