AUGUSTA — In Tuesday’s briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah shared that Maine will be getting new and improved COVID-19 testing equipment from the federal government and Abbott Labs.
A new testing device called BinaxNOW is coming to Maine to help speed up the COVID-19 testing process.
“It utilizes a lightweight almost credit card like mechanism in order to conduct the testing itself. The test is flexible, it can be used in different settings and uses a technology called antigen based testing,” Shah said.
The CDC director said there will be 26,000 initial BinaxNOW tests coming the state from the federal government.
The antigen-based testing differs from the type of testing done at the state laboratory in Augusta.
“That type of testing looks for the genetic material that characterizes the virus. Antigen testing by contrasts looks to identify the spiky proteins that you may have seen pictures of that are on the surface of the virus itself,” Shah said.
Practically speaking, Shah said, this advancement means a greater availability to people who need results fast.
“These particular tests have the benefit of returning a result within approximately 15 minutes, if not sooner. They can, as I mentioned, also be used in a variety of settings, given that the testing device itself is rather small and self contained,” Shah said.
Shah said those 26,000 tests could be in the possession of the Maine CDC by soon as early October, with more tests coming later this year.