CB-NAAT and ABBOTT ID NOW: Are These New Tests For COVID-19 Better Than RT-PCR?


Antigen-Antibody reaction and RT-PCR tests have been the common diagnostic tools in India for COVID-19. While the Antigen-Antibody puts forth a low accuracy, the RT-PCR tests are spot on in detecting Coronavirus. Unfortunately, the mutated virus has challenged this precision and accuracy of all the tests. People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are testing negative, and a certain number of those being asymptomatic have even died. In light of the ongoing erroneous results, CB-NAAT and ABBOTT ID NOW tests have been introduced in the diagnostic world and are offering great results.


CB-NAAT (Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) is a diagnostic tool highly effective in detecting pathogens while they still are in the infectious stage. While ABBOTT ID NOW is a ‘rapid, instrument-based, isothermal system for the qualitative detection of infectious diseases. Its unique isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology provides molecular results in just minutes, allowing clinicians to make evidence-based clinical decisions during a patient visit’, as described by Abbott Technologies itself.

Quicker & Better Than RT-PCR

“An RT-PCR Report takes a day to declare the results while CB-NAAT provides accurate results in just 45 minutes”, elaborates Dr. Vaibhav Pratap, Head of Pathology at Ipsum Diagnostics Lucknow. The ID Now test is even more advanced and capable of providing the results in just 15 minutes or to be more precise, it offers a positive result in 5 minutes while a negative one in 13 minutes.  “ID Now is much more efficient than RT-PCR as it uses molecular technology(something which is given great credibility in the medical world). Also the ID Now machine is portable and lightweight allowing it to reach the most remote areas”, adds Dr. Pratap.

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Costs Factors

Both CB-NAAT and ID Now tests are cartridge based and more futuristic, but a single cartridge can cost up to Rs. 3,000 to  Rs. 4,000, making these tests expensive. “These tests might prove useful in emergency situations where every single minute matters, but for normal diagnosis purposes, they are way beyond the affordability of the common man in India”, says Dr. Swati Singh, Head of Microbiology at RML Pathology. 

Where Can I Get These Tests Done?

Currently these tests are not available in India but countries like the USA are already using these technologies. However, Abbott Technologies are planning to make these tests available in India and developing them for the Indian market. “We also plan to hold a video conference on Monday and see if this kit can be used in India”, said Abbott Technologies India in a conference.

Are These Tests Reliable During A Crisis Situation?

“Being the most enhanced of the lot, you can rely on the accuracy of these tests. However, no test is 100 per cent accurate. Errors are inevitable”, remarks Dr. Swati. The only drawback which these tests come with is their sampling size. RT-PCR tests outshine them with a sampling size of 92 samples while ABBOTT ID NOW runs only one sample at a time and ID Now can run only four tests in one go. 

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