Developing a fast COVID-19 that resembled a pregnancy test and building two factories to boost productions — those were but two of the quick-thinking actions that Abbott (NYSE:ABT) officials took in the early months of a deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott began tracking the virus in China at the end of 2019 and into early 2020. By February, the company had an internal meeting to discuss its plan of action as the virus began to spread rapidly and was introduced to the U.S. The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
“We knew this virus was different. The outcome was spreading across the globe,” Andrea Wainer, executive VP of rapid and molecular diagnostics at Abbott, said during a CES 2021 panel. “Diagnostic players were going to need to play a role.”
Customers started asking Abbott to develop tests in February. At that time, there were only 72,000 cumulative cases worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine coronavirus resource center. The worldwide reported case count later surpassed one million cases on Apr. 2, 2020.