120M cheap COVID-19 tests for developing nations

2020-09-29 at 06:51

The World Health Organization has announced plans to make 120 million cheap Covid-19 tests available to lower and middle-income countries as it seeks to limit the spread of coronavirus in the developing world.

The $5 test, which detects elements present on the outside of the virus rather than its genetic material, can confirm whether someone is infected with Covid-19 in as little as 15 minutes.

The alternative PCR tests that look for viral genetic material directly require specialist laboratory equipment, which has led to severe bottlenecks in testing in many countries.

The antigen tests are made by SD Biosensor of South Korea and US group Abbott, which is one of the biggest diagnostics makers in the world.

The WHO’s Global Fund has committed an initial $50m to enable countries to purchase the new tests, with first orders expected this week.

The deal covers 133 countries, including many in Latin America which is currently the region hardest-hit by the pandemic in terms of fatality and infection rates.