Millions of pregnancy tests are sold every year in the United States and at a cost of a little over $10 for a box of 2, they take just a few minutes and a bit of urine to give you the results. Now, Abbott Laboratories is promising a COVID-19 antigen test that is similar in design to some pregnancy tests, which will be fast (15 minutes), inexpensive ($5) and easy-to-use with a swab taken from the nose.

What will this test do? According to Abbott, the test – called BinaxNOW – is about the size of a credit card and uses something called lateral flow. Just like a pregnancy test uses urine for the results, this test uses nasal mucus. The sample soaks into the test membrane, like water soaking into the edge of a paper towel. If the sample has molecular evidence of COVID-19, it triggers the test and shows 2 lines, a positive result just like a pregnancy test. If there is no sign of COVID-19, the test shows 1 line. The BinaxNOW correctly identifies COVID-19 cases over 97% of the time.

The test has been made possible thanks to an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Abbott said in a statement that it would start shipping in September, “ramping [up] to 50 million tests a month at the beginning of October. ” As a “point of care” test, the FDA says it could be used in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms or even some schools.

This is not the first time Abbott has been in the news when it comes to COVID-19 testing. In May of this year, the FDA alerted the public to inaccurate results from Abbott’s ID NOW test. The ID NOW test, which is still available in some clinics and doctors' offices, is a different type of test from BinaxNOW, however. The ID NOW test uses a special machine to rapidly perform a biochemical reaction looking for genetic information from COVID-19. The new BinaxNOW test uses a different approach.

Along with the new test, Abbott has also promised “a no-charge complementary phone app, which allows people to display their BinaxNOW test results when asked by organizations where people gather, such as workplaces and schools.”