WHO Announces Partnerships, Plan To Provide 120M Rapid Coronavirus Tests To LMICs

AP: WHO, partners roll out faster COVID tests for poorer nations
“The World Health Organization announced Monday that it and leading partners have agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid-diagnostic tests for the coronavirus to help lower- and middle-income countries make up ground in a testing gap with richer countries — even if it’s not fully funded yet. At $5 apiece, the antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for which WHO issued an emergency-use listing last week, the program initially requires $600 million and is to get started as early as next month to provide better access to areas where it’s harder to reach with PCR tests that are used often in many wealthier nations…” (Keaten, 9/28).

CIDRAP: With rapid tests headed for lower-income countries, COVID deaths near 1 million
“At a WHO media briefing [Monday], Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said the program is a vital addition to LMIC testing capacity. ‘These tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment,’ he said. ‘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 the volume agreements were developed between two test manufacturers and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The two manufacturers are Abbott and SD Biosensor. The Global Fund committed the initial $50 million for countries to purchase the tests, and the group said countries can start placing their orders this week. A host of groups have signed on to help speed up the rollout of the tests, including Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Unitaid, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)…” (Schnirring, 9/28).

Additional coverage of the rapid test announcement is available from Financial Times, The Hill, and Reuters.

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