In a bid to harness the rate of infection and prevent more fatalities, rapid, on-the-spot COVID-19 test kits will be made available globally, including in the lower and middle-income nations soon, The Guardian reports.
The rapid COVID-19 test kits, that resembles pregnancy test will be designed to turn out the result in 15-30 minutes, and at a cost of $5 (approx Rupee 369) per kit or even less.
The makers are claiming sensitivity of the test kits are around 97% accurate under ‘optimal conditions’ and 80-90% accurate under real-world conditions, both enough to pick up most infections.
Over 120 million rapid antigen test kits will be initially made available to the world, where primarily two companies – South Korean SD BioSensor and US-based Abbott – will supply the vital technology that could potentially save millions of lives.
The World Health Organization has reportedly given an emergency nod for one of the tests that works much like an instant pregnancy test where two blue lines show positive. The other test’s approval is on the way.
The Guardian noted, while the rapid tests are designed for lower to middle-income nations, wealthy nations like the UK which has joined the Access to Covid tools initiative (ACT accelerator) will be able to order the kits.
ACT is a joint venture between WHO, Gates Foundation, European Commission, and the French government.
Already, Germany, Switzerland, and France have ordered 20-million test kits each, and in return to Gates foundation guarantee for volume, 20% of the kits will be made available to lower-to-middle income countries.
The organizers behind the initiative are pressing the government for a ‘volume guarantee’ to procure the kits since if delayed “other countries place their orders and the poor populations again lose out.”
This is not the only ‘rapid’ COVID-19 test kits under development. In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research just approved an RT-PCR diagnostic kit for use called the GlobalTM diagnostic kit manufactured by Equine Biotech.
The kit reportedly delivers a positive or negative result within one and a half hours with 100 percent specificity according to the startup.
In the Maldives, Medtech Maldives announced a rapid COVID-19 test kit called ‘BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card’, which can bring out a result within fifteen minutes at 97 percent efficacy. The kits will be manufactured by Abbott pharmaceuticals.
Similarly in Britain, many companies are developing saliva-based COVID-19 test kits as well as rapid antigen kits, under the government’s recently leaked ‘moonshot proposal.’ Both types give a result in 90 minutes.
Apparently, the WHO-approved kits are better both in terms of time-consumption, ease-of-use, and cost. The Guardian noted if approved the cost-effective kits could be widely used in universities, schools, and workplaces in a more widespread manner.
“This is the power of global collaboration,” said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, adding “this is not just a new test – it’s the money and the deployment plan to get it to where it’s needed, fast.”