GENEVA (dpa-AFX) – The World Health Organization WHO relies on corona rapid tests to combat the pandemic in poorer countries. The WHO announced on Monday evening in Geneva that 120 million so-called antigen tests are to be made available for 133 countries with low and middle incomes. This should enable extensive tests in places where the detection of the virus genome in the laboratory (a so-called PCR test, as it is used by default to detect the virus) is difficult or too slow.
For the project as part of the WHO campaign “ACT Accelerator” (Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has signed a contract with the manufacturers SD Biosensor and Abbott, which allows the acceptance of 120 million tests Guaranteed $ 5 unit price. A total of 600 million US dollars would be required for this. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is contributing $ 50 million. In addition, support from other international institutions such as Unicef and World Bank as well as states are expected, said the head of the fund, Peter Sands.
“If low- and middle-income countries were to test at the same level as high-income countries, the 120 million tests would last less than two weeks,” Sands said.
The WHO generally recommends the rapid tests as a supplement to PCR tests, said WHO Covid-19 Commissioner Maria van Kerkhove. Antigen tests are particularly efficient when the virus load is high and could help, for example, when it comes to tracking outbreaks around at least one case that has already been confirmed by a PCR test. Where laboratory tests would take days, antigen tests are still a sensible alternative.
The tests do not search laboriously for the genetic makeup of the virus in swab samples, but for molecules that are characteristic of the virus. Similar to a pregnancy test, a test strip shows within 15 to 30 minutes whether the searched molecule has been found and the person is positive or not./cpe/DP/he