More than 100 million rapid Covid tests to go to the poorest countries

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Tests for Covid-19 that can give results in less than an hour must be rolled out worldwide, with more than 100 million units earmarked for low- and middle-income countries where access to sophisticated diagnostics is limited .Last week, the World Health Organization achieved what Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called “a milestone” by giving the first emergency approval for an antigen-based rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19.

Dr Tedros told an online press briefing that thanks to an agreement between WHO and partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 120 million of 600 million tests will be reserved for low-income countries and intermediate.

Rapid diagnostic tests are available for purchase online, but this is the first to gain WHO approval.

Dr Tedros said: “These tests provide reliable results in about 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment.

“This will allow for the expansion of testing, especially in hard-to-reach areas that do not have laboratory facilities or enough trained health workers to perform PCR testing.”

Dr Tedros urged countries to donate more money to help fund the equitable distribution of tests, drugs and vaccines to fight Covid-19. He praised his ‘friend Boris Johnson’, who announced this weekend that the UK would give £ 571million to give the world’s poorest access to vaccines and become the biggest donor country in the world. ‘WHO.

Volume guarantee agreements have been signed between the two manufacturers, Abbot and SD Biosensor, and the Gates Foundation to ensure that 133 low- and middle-income countries will be able to access the tests, available for around $ 5 each.

According to reports, France and Germany have already placed orders for the tests, but it is not known if the UK, which is a member of the WHO diagnostic partnership, will sign up.

As part of its Moonshot initiative, the UK is hoping that rapid testing will allow millions of tests to be deployed every week and ease testing bottlenecks. Two diagnoses are currently being tested in UK hospitals.

Standard PCR tests take hours and sometimes days to deliver results and require sophisticated laboratories and trained health workers.

However, rapid antigen tests are not as sensitive as PCR tests and will not detect infections in people with low viral loads, said Jon Deeks, professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham and expert in Covid-19 tests. .

“The tests do not amplify DNA like it does in a PCR test. This means they can miss (give false negatives) if people are tested sooner or later – missing the start is bad because that’s when people are likely to be contagious.

“However, these tests are going to make a huge difference for low- and middle-income countries because they have little or no access to RT-PCR tests. So yes, they will be revolutionary because this test will be better than no test, which is the situation they are in now, ”he said.

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