Investing

Cramer sees new five-minute test as possible turning point in coronavirus-driven market decline

Key Points
  • CNBC's Jim Cramer said Tuesday that a faster coronavirus test could turn the tide in fighting the outbreak — and by extension, the battered economy and stock market.
  • Cramer said he's encouraged by Abbott Laboratories' newly approved coronavirus testing system capable of producing results in as little as five minutes.
  • The U.S., which was slow to begin mass testing, has seen coronavirus cases soar as more testing options have become available.
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Cramer: The battle against COVID-19 will be won by science

CNBC's Jim Cramer said Tuesday that the development of a faster coronavirus test could turn the tide in fighting the outbreak — and by extension, the battered economy and the stock market.

"When you find out who has it, everything changes" because maybe we find out more people have had it and recovered, Cramer said on CNBC. People who test positive will know to seek medical attention and to quarantine themselves, he said. "Then suddenly we get a new world," and the U.S. can start thinking about reopening the economy and getting Americans back to work, he said.

The U.S., which was slow to begin mass testing, has seen coronavirus cases soar as more testing options have become available. America remains the country with the most known cases — over 164,700. The U.S. death toll was 3,173 as of Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University data. About 40% of U.S. cases are in New York state, which had more than 67,300 infections and 1,342 deaths.

Cramer said he's encouraged by what he heard from Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White on Monday evening's "Mad Money" about faster tests so people won't have to wait days for results.

"We know that fighting this virus, and being able to go back to a world that's more normal, is going to require a lot of testing in the right places with rapid turnaround — and fortunately, we have multiple formats to do that with," White said.

A box containing a 5-minute test for COVID-19 from Abbott Laboratories is pictured during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 30, 2020.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Abbott on Friday announced emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for a rapid coronavirus testing system capable of detecting positive results in five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes. The device that runs the swabs is about the size of a toaster oven, designed to be used outside a hospital setting in a doctor's office or an urgent care clinic.

On March 18, Abbott received FDA emergency approval for a coronavirus test that can be used on an existing company system that's already in authorized laboratories around the nation. The company said it's also going to work with hospitals and government authorities to deploy additional systems that can run the test.

"I have been favoring test, test, test," Cramer said Tuesday, while urging a change in the narrative that the coronavirus is a "unseen foe." The "Mad Money" host said "It's seen. We know who it is and we're going to get it."

Cramer said he's also encouraged by Johnson & Johnson's announcement Monday that it has identified a lead vaccine candidate for the coronavirus. J&J said human testing will begin by September, with a vaccine available for emergency use authorization early next year.

"We have very good early indicators that not only can we depend on this to be a safe vaccine base but also one that will ultimately be effective based on all the early testing and modeling we've been doing," J&J Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky told CNBC.

"Take heart in Alex Gorsky. Take heart in Miles White," Cramer said. "These people are the best we have in this country. … They will defeat this if we believe in them."