The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners said on Monday that they will provide 120 million rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests to low- and middle-income countries.
These tests will provide reliable results in about 15-30 minutes rather than hours or days, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a joint press briefing on Monday with partner organizations, such as the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, the Global Fund, Unitaid and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
This project 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 (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which is especially important in areas of high transmission, Tedros said.
According to the WHO, these test kits are currently priced at a maximum of five U.S. dollars per unit, which is already substantially cheaper than the PCR tests.
The WHO said that 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.