CAPE TOWN – About 20 countries in Africa will receive the Covid-19 antigen rapid-diagnostic tests starting in October. The test kit, for which the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an emergency-use listing last week, cost around €4.28 (about R85).
The WHO announced on Monday that it has agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid-diagnostic tests for the coronavirus to lower- and middle-income countries make up ground in a testing gap with richer countries.
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, said: “Antigen tests are an important complement to Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, and are crucial to expand testing capacity throughout Africa. The beauty of antigen testing is that it is fast and gives quick results. It will allow healthcare workers to quickly isolate cases and treat them while tracing their contacts to cut the transmission chain.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the program as “good news” in the fight against Covid-19.
“These tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment. 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,” he said.
Organizations 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.
As part of this comprehensive, end-to-end effort, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has executed separate volume guarantee agreements with rapid diagnostic test (RDT) producers Abbott and SD Biosensor.
Mark Suzman, Chief Executive Officer of the Gates Foundation, said: “Testing is an essential tool in the fight against Covid-19. We are delighted to join a partnership that will help ensure that the latest, high-quality diagnostics do not just go to the highest bidder but will be available at an affordable price to the world’s lower-income countries
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