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Over 600,000 Americans have been killed by the Coronavirus. The country is going through a health care emergency. Testing is crucial for saving lives. Rapid tests can produce results in 5 - 15 minutes. One would think that the mass manufacturing of rapid tests would be a top priority throughout the current crisis.
Instead, shockingly, the opposite has reportedly happened. According to the New York Times, workers at a Maine factory making one of America's most popular rapid tests were told this summer to take apart millions of the products they had worked so hard to create and toss them into the trash.
The New York Times also states that a mass layoff of 2,000 employees came next. “The numbers are going down,” site manager Andy Wilkinson reportedly told the workers of the demand for testing, saying it wasn’t their fault. “This is all about money."
As virus cases in the U.S. plummeted this spring, so did Abbott’s Covid-testing sales. But now, amid a new surge in infections, steps the company reportedly took to eliminate stock and wind down manufacturing are proving to have terrible timing. This is hobbling efforts to expand screening as the highly contagious Delta variant rages across the country.
However, Abbott has refuted the story published in the New York Times, stating that they have not destroyed any finished products. Read the Abbott statement here. However, they have not denied scaling back manufacturing. Because these tests are now virtually unavailable.
Whatever the case may be, now is the time to expand testing rather than decrease it. Now is the time for the government to fund mass testing, and rapid testing. Lives are literally depending on it. The country is in a state of emergency. Business interests cannot be put above human lives.
Maker of Popular Covid Test Told Factory to Destroy Inventory (The New York Times, 8-20-21)
Abbott's Response to The New York Times Article (Abbott, 8-20-21)
A rapid COVID-19 test manufacturer trashed millions of products early this summer because it thought the pandemic was wrapping up (Business Insider, 8-20-21)
Abbott destroyed millions of COVID test cards when demand plummeted. Now, it's scrambling to ramp back up (Fierce BioTech, 8-23-21)