WHO to launch 120 million Rapid Diagnostic Tests for COVID-19

Published: September 29, 2020

On September 29, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that it will launch 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 joining hands with its partners. This will help lower- and middle-income countries to fill in the testing gap with richer countries.

Highlights

The WHO launched rapid diagnostic tests will be antigen based. The price of a single test kit is to be 5 USD per piece. The programme is to begin by October 2020. It will help in reaching areas where it is harder for the PCR tests to reach. The PCR tests are generally used by rich countries as it is expensive and requires a greater number of experts to conduct the test.

Antigen Tests

The Antigen based rapid diagnostic tests look for proteins or antigens that are found on the surface of the virus. They are considered as less accurate and much faster than the high-grade genetic tests called the PCR tests.

Current Scenario

The high-income countries are carrying out 292 tests per day per 100,000 people. On the other hand, the low-income countries are conducting 14 tests per 100,000 people. Therefore, it is highly essential to increase the testing capabilities of these countries.

Significance

According to WHO, the rapid diagnostic tests hold great significance where community transmission is widespread and where nucleic acid amplification based diagnostic tests (NAAT) are unavailable. PCR is a NAAT test.

ACT-Accelerator initiative

It is led by the WHO. It is Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. It is a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. The main aim of the initiative is to level the products available in rich and poor countries alike.

The countries have begun the initiative with a commitment of 8 billion USD as initial funding.

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