Abbott Laboratories’ (NYSE:ABT) has announced that the United States Food and Drug Administration has given its new COVID-19 antibody test for emergency use authorization.

Abbot to ship 20 million antibody tests in May

On Monday, the company indicated that it is planning to ship around 20 million of the antibody tests this month. Abbott indicated that it is targeting a capacity of around 60 million antibody tests next month. Various companies across the country have invested significant sums of money in the development of antibody tests that can show if an individual has been exposed to coronavirus.

Abbott’s tests can show if one has been infected with the virus or they are immune and whether they are asymptomatic. Robert Ford, the CEO of Abbott, indicated that having a reliable test in the company’s platforms will help health officials and healthcare workers in conducting large scale COVID-19 testing. The emergency use authorization granted means that Abbott will use the antibody test despite it not being approved or cleared formally by the regulator.

Antibody tests could be important in lifting lockdowns

Various federal and state leaders have heralded antibody tests considering them as the hope that could help large scale testing. This, in turn, will help in guiding decisions about the reopening of the country. US President Donald Trump has urged states to use tests as they begin to relax the strict social distancing rules imposed to combat coronavirus. So far, over 1.3 million people have been infected across the US.

There have, however, been concerns about the specify of antibody tests and the science around them regarding whether they are indicative of one’s immunity or the extent of that immunity. Since it is yet to be established whether the presence of antibodies is an indication of immunity against COVID-19, experts are warning against making decisions based on antibody tests only.

The approval of the antibody tests is the fourth COVID-19 test from Abbott that the FDA has approved for emergency use authorization. The tests include the rapid test that provides results in less than five minutes.