WHO Approves New Test Kits For COVID-19 Fight

30/09/2020 119 Views

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved on-the-spot coronavirus test kit that costs $5 (N2,500) and gives results in 15 to 30 minutes.

According to a statement issued by WHO, the rapid test would enable expansion of testing, particularly in countries without extensive laboratories or trained health workers to implement molecular (polymerase-chain reaction or PCR) tests, which costs about N50,000.

The world body said the Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Tests (Ag RDTs) developed by Abbott and SD Biosensor are highly portable, reliable, and easy to administer, making testing possible in near-person, decentralised healthcare settings.

According to the statement, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has executed separate volume guarantee agreements with the Ag RDT producers, Abbott and SD Biosensor.

These two arrangements will make available to Low and Medium Income Countries (LMICs) 120 million Ag RDTs, priced at a maximum of $5 per unit over a period of six months.

Also, the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, yesterday, announced a set of agreements to make available for LMICs the Ag RDTs.

The ACT Accelerator is a new, groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March 2020 and launched by WHO, the European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.

Organisations involved in the milestone agreement include the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Global Fund, Unitaid, and WHO.

Before now, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had been opposed to rapid diagnostic tests, which results they said were not 100 per cent reliable. But it is hoped that with the WHO announcement, the country will be able to carry out more tests.

The ‘non-approval’ of rapid test kits by the FMoH and the NCDC amid the low capacity of the country to test for COVID-19 might be fuelling a black market for the devices.



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