Low- and middle-income countries to be supplied with 120m rapid antigen tests
Covid-19 tests showing results in 15 to 30 minutes are set to roll out worldwide, potentially saving thousands of lives and decelerating the pandemic in poor and rich countries alike. Low- and middle-income countries will be supplied with 120m rapid antigen from two companies for $5 each or less. One of the tests, from South Korean company SD BioSensor, has been given emergency approval by the WHO, while the other, from the US company Abbott, is expected to get it shortly for a test it manufactures in South Korea.
“We see the pressure of supply building rapidly. That’s why we need this volume guarantee,” said Catharina Boehme, CEO of the non-profit Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a key player in the initiative. “We needed to secure volumes for low- and middle-income countries, before all the other countries place their orders and the poor populations again lose out,” she added.
The companies claim their tests to be 97% accurate, but in optimal conditions. FIND places sensitivity in real-world conditions between 80% and 90%, which would pick up most infections. Near instant test results could play a major part in jumpstarting the travel industry and dive operators in particular. With travelers producing test results upon arrival at their destinations would reduce or potentially eliminate the need for quarantine, currently a major deterrent for those willing to travel.