The World Health Organisation (W.H.O) has unveiled a rapid COVID-19 testing kit that can work in less than 30-minutes aimed at closing the testing gap in developing countries.
The W.H.O says that its rapid diagnosis COVID-19 test kit is less accurate than the PCR test kits which are used in wealthier countries, but stands by the new kit as a cost-effective and fast means of testing for the coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation says the kits will be priced at USD $5 (AUD $7) per test, adding that the project still needs to secure $600 million to kick-start production by October, with hopes that 120 million can be produced and sent to developing countries to close their testing gap.
The test works by identifying proteins and antigens that are found on the surface of the coronavirus, and can give a positive result in the space of just 30-minutes. This dramatically reduces the time needed to identify a positive coronavirus patient, as PCR tests can take a number of days.
The World Health Organisation’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the development represents “good news” in the battle against the COVID-19 virus.
“These tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment,” he said, adding that “this will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests.”
The Director-General continued to explain that “we have an agreement, we have seed funding and now we need the full amount of funds to buy these tests.”
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, an organisation that works to fund the research, development and distribution of vaccines says that the organisation will make $50 million available for the test kit.
“They’re not a silver bullet, but hugely valuable as a complement to PCR tests, since although they are less accurate, they’re much faster, cheaper and don’t require a lab,” Sands told the ABC.
Sands said that the expedited tests are a “significant step” toward fighting the coronavirus, particularly for developing nations. Statistics cited by Sands state that developed nations are testing at a rate of 292 for every 100,000 people.
That figure stands at just 14 tests per 100,000 people in some of the world’s poorest countries.