Maker of Popular Covid Test Told Factory to Destroy Inventory

Covid Test

After the F.D.A. authorized BinaxNOW for at-home use, Northwestern bought 150,000 kits, handing them out to students, faculty and staff. “We wanted to give them one more tool to stay safe,” Mr. Figora said.

Abbott met its initial production goals by keeping manufacturing lines running 24 hours a day and emphasizing speed to an extent that some employees said made them uncomfortable.

On a January conference call, investors learned the hard work was paying off: Abbott had sold $2.4 billion in coronavirus tests, mostly rapid ones, in the final quarter of 2020. “I expect testing demand is still going to remain high, even as the vaccines roll out,” Mr. Ford said on the call.

“The big point here is the sustainability.”

For a while, it appeared he would be right. In March, the federal government announced $10 billion to support testing in schools. By April, Abbott had reaped another $2.2 billion in testing sales. The same month, the F.D.A. extended BinaxNOW’s shelf life, originally six months, to a year.

But then the C.D.C. came out with a game-changing announcement: Vaccinated people without symptoms no longer needed to be tested, even after exposure.

“We couldn’t have anticipated what has occurred over the past several weeks,” Mr. Ford told investors on another call, describing “a sharp and rapid decline in demand,” particularly for rapid tests, and dropping the company’s earnings forecast. Abbott later announced a $500 million restructuring plan.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Things to Know

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Vaccine protection in adolescents. Five months after immunization, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine appeared to offer virtually no defense against moderate illness caused by Omicron among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, according to new C.D.C. data. Booster shots, however, dramatically increased the protection.

“Are you not thinking that there’s going to be any kind of, you know, resurgence or ramp-up of screening testing in the fall?” Matt Taylor, a managing director at UBS, asked on the call. “What are you to do with all the capacity that you’ve built up?”

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