WHO announces rapid tests to be made available to low and middle-income countries

FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via REUTERS

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has announced that a substantial proportion of COVID-19 rapid tests – 120 million – will be made available to low and middle-income countries, all thanks to an agreement between WHO and partners.

Dr Adhanom made the announcement yesterday saying those tests provided reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment.

He said that would enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that did not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests.

“This is a vital addition to their testing capacity and is especially important in areas of high transmission,” Dr Adhanom said in his address.

“Volume guarantee agreements have been developed between two manufacturers and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will make 120 million of these new highly-portable and easy-to-use rapid diagnostic tests available over a period of six months.

“Currently, they’re priced at a maximum of US$5 per unit, these are already substantially cheaper than PCR tests and we expect the price to come down.

“The quicker COVID-19 can be diagnosed, the quicker action can be taken to treat and isolate those with the virus and trace their contacts.

“We have an agreement, we have seed funding and now we need the full amount of funds to buy these tests.

“If we act together, we will win together!”

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