You can wait for the vaccine. Be my guest. I hope we have something by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
I don't think we can wait that long. Which is why I hope that Abbott Labs (ABT) can bring back some normalcy to this country -- and the world -- with its BinaxNOW rapid antigen test for Covid-19 along with its amazing Navica app that shows if you are safe to be admitted to where you want to go.
Look, I am a huge believer in the hoped-for vaccine. I am speaking to Sanofi (SNY) today about their incredible partnership with sworn competitor GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) about their efforts. I am trying to get into the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) trial that was announced just yesterday.
But let's face it: we can't just presume that a vaccine works if a couple of thousand people are walking around in a bunch of cities for two months and they don't come down with anything. And we also can no longer presume that even if it seems to work anyone will take it because the darned thing's gotten so politicized. That's how unreliable the whole federal medical apparatus has become.
Which brings me back to Abbott's recently announced rapid test and its really cool Navica app that I have downloaded for free. Right now it is hard to find this 15-minute test because the federal government has procured 150 million of them to start the process of opening America with a higher degree of confidence than we currently have. That's about all that's available of this simple test that's done on premises instead of sending it out to some faraway lab for results.
It's pretty easy. A clinician takes a nasal swab, wipes it on a card and in 15 minutes you know if you are positive or negative for Covid-19. The results are then downloaded to your Navica app and a QR code tells you whether you have Covid or not within a 97% accuracy rate. It becomes your easily scanned cellphone test about whether you can enter or not and it is a heck of a lot more meaningful than a temperature take which you could argue may be for show because many really really sick people with Covid don't have temperature.
I believe the federal government wants to be able to test kids so they can go school or be turned back if their code shows positive. Obviously, you would keep your child back if she tested positive. The good news would be that both spouses could return to work -- no one would have to make the sad choice between a child's health and their own financial well-being. I think it is the most important priority out there right now.
Once Abbott Labs gets fully up to speed, though -- and they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars and hiring thousands of people to mass produce these kits -- the government won't be the only ones with tests. The drug stores can take over and really make this a mass product.
Here's how I see things shaking out. I know that the most impossible thing I am going to say tonight is that the Eagles will be in the Super Bowl.
Of course, I would go, Covid or not, because I am a total knucklehead Bird fanatic.
What I would envision is that by Super Bowl weekend in February everyone would have downloaded Navica and the airlines and stadiums will all have Navica screeners. The day before I go to the airport to fly to Tampa Bay, I will go to my CVS (CVS) after work and get my non-invasive 15-minute test with the results uploaded into my Navica app. I know you might have heard that you have to have some reason that you think you need to take the test. I think we have plenty of reasons so I am not worried about being rejected. You shouldn't be either. You won't be. I'll have my results, in my Navica, by the time I get home.
The next day I am going to go to the airport and just like I use my QR as an e-ticket to get on the plane, the airline will have a QR scanner to get your Navica verdict. If I am negative I will get on the plane. When I get to the stadium they, too, will scan my Navica and, again, I will get in to the game to see the Eagles probably beat the Patriots for the second time in three years.
Now, there's a catch. The test is only 97% effective. So you still want to wear a mask. But isn't 97% of something better than 100% of nothing? Oh, and after we win? I'm going to Disney World, where, by then, they, too, will have Navica readers so there's no tests, no line, and I am right into the Magic Kingdom.
The odd thing? I seem to be the only one who knows this will be the future. Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines (LUV) , didn't know about it when I asked him yesterday. I don't know if Disney (DIS) has figured it out either. Suffice it to say I see the future they don't. Get ready for it. It's a lot more likely than a victory by the Eagles in the Super Bowl.