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September 30, 2020 - A $5 test that can diagnose Covid-19 in 15 minutes will dramatically expand the capacity to detect cases in less wealthy countries.
The World Health Organisation, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, are to provide 120 million Covid-19 test kits to less wealthy countries.
The six-month initiative will cover 133 nations, including many in Latin America, which is currently the region hit hardest by the disease.
The $5 tests will be made by drug manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor, and work in a similar way to pregnancy tests – displaying two lines for a positive result.
Crucially, they are easy-to-use and give results in 15-30 minutes, which the manufacturers claim are 97% accurate.
Lengthy durations between taking a test and receiving a result is hampering many countries' attempts to control the spread of coronavirus, so these new cheap and fast solutions could radically alter the course of the pandemic.
Wealthy nations can also receive the tests but will be required to pay more for them. Germany has ordered 20 million tests, with France and Switzerland following suit.