Increasing Testing

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will increase the reimbursement rate for some versions of Abbott Laboratories’ tests for SARS-CoV-2 from $51 to $100 per test to increase the rate of testing. The increase applies to tests run on Abbott m2000 machines generally found in hospitals.

These machines have been running at less than 10% of capacity and the increased reimbursement is intended to encourage higher utilization of available testing facilities, particularly among residents of nursing homes.

Abbott also announced the production of antibody test kits to help determine whether an individual has been previously infected. We do not yet know that having IgG antibodies (evidence of prior infection) means that you cannot get the disease again.

“I don’t know we have enough trust in what an exposure means that it would change the way we deploy our workforce,” Kimberly Hanson, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said at a media briefing. “We’re still trying to figure out what detecting an antibody response means, and if it’s protective or not, we don’t know.”

At present, the primary uses of antibody testing may be to quantify the extent of asymptomatic infection and to identify potential convalescent plasma donors. Convalescent plasma is currently being used in the treatment of some patients with severe COVID-19.