Abbott Laboratories Denies Destroying Millions Of COVID Test Kits
Abbott Laboratories is disputing a report that it told workers in Maine to destroy “millions” of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 in the weeks before the company announced layoffs, Meredith Goadstaff reported Maine’s Press Herald newspaper.
Photo Insert: Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Self Test
The New York Times reported Friday afternoon that as sales plunged this spring, along with cases of the virus, the Chicago-based company ramped down production of the 15-minute BinaxNOW test, closing a plant in Illinois that was making the test, canceling contracts, and laying off 400 full-time employees in Westbrook and Scarborough in Maine.
Now, with the delta variant surging across the country, Abbott is scrambling to rehire workers and restore its production capacity.
When Maine employees were instructed this summer to dismantle stockpiled tests and “stuff them into garbage bags,” some were upset that the tests weren’t being donated to other countries that could use them, the Times reported.
Many of the company’s manufacturing workers are immigrants from African countries, where COVID-19 tests and vaccines are not as available.
Abbott said that the BinaxNOW test is not approved outside of the country and that other countries do not accept short-dated products because of the time it takes to process them.
“It would have taken months to complete manufacturing, create individualized regulatory filings in countries, obtain regulatory approvals, ship product overseas in exact specified storage conditions, and then get it to the people who need it—too late for the product to be widely used,” Press-Herald reported.