China firm claims faster COVID-19 tests, targets global sales

Clay Curtis
September 30, 2020

On Monday, US President Donald Trump announced the distribution of 150 million rapid coronavirus tests that can deliver a result in 15-30 minutes.

The WHO has granted BioSensor's test emergency approval and is expected to do so for Abbott's in the near future, with 20 percent of their production going to lower income countries. Faster testing will likely play a significant role in helping countries, especially those that now have less access to reliable diagnostic tools, combat all aspects of the pandemic.

They are generally considered less accurate - though much faster - than higher-grade genetic tests, known as PCR tests, which are used in many wealthier nations.

'This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests.

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday said Abbott and SD Biosensor had agreed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to "make 120 million of these new, highly portable and easy-to-use rapid Covid-19 diagnostic tests available over a period of six months".

"It is our first line of defence, critical for countries to track, trace and isolate to stop the spread of the virus and to ensure that we are not flying blind", she said.

USA and South Korean firms developed two types of tests, each priced at up to five dollars.

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Sharma said they are looking at several antigen tests, but it was only on Tuesday that the government posted a minimum standard, which is a test that accurately identifies positive cases at least 80 per cent of the time.

"We have an agreement, we have seed funding and now we need the full amount of funds to buy these tests", he said, without specifying.

Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund, a partnership that works to end epidemics, said it would make an initial $76.28 million available from its Covid-19 response mechanism.

Tuite said it is important to know antigen tests do have limitations, because they don't amplify the virus the way PCR tests do.

He said the 120 million tests would represent a "massive increase" in testing but were still a fraction of what is needed in those countries.

He said: "A test that can be done really quickly and give a really rapid answer can be enormously valuable in helping reduce transmission of the virus".

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