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How effective are the 15 minute COVID tests and when can India get access to them?
In early October, the WHO said that it would make available to the world some of the effective and affordable COVID-19 tests for the low and middle income countries.
The tests are expected to help these countries in contact tracing and curbing the further spread of the coronavirus. The tests would be time saving as they would give results that too the accurate ones within 15 minutes.
What is this rapid diagnostic COVID-19 test?
The Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) for COVID-19 are the antigen based tests that provide results quickly.
These are regarded to be highly portable, reliable, effective making the testing process possible in every health care setting.
Who is manufacturing these tests?
Different manufacturers are working on these 15 minute tests but only the South Korea based SD Biosensor has received the emergency approval from the WHO.
Meanwhile, the US based Abbott is expected to receive the nod from the World Health Organization soon.
How exactly do these tests work?
These rapid tests basically look for the presence of antigens and proteins which are found on the surface of the virus.
According to the FDA, a health care provider will swab the the person's nose and would place the sample on a test card that contains the testing reagent.
After about 15 minutes, the health care provider would check the results from the testing card.
The results would be similar to those appearing in the pregnancy kits, with single and double lines.
How effective are these tests?
Though the results are quicker than most of the existing coronavirus tests, the effectiveness of the standard RT-PCR test stands on top of other tests.
It is still the golden standard when compared to any other COVID-19 tests.
How will RDT be better than RT-PCR then?
Though the test results are less accurate, the RDT test is very fast and can transform the testing and tracking process in many countries which have a shortage of health care providers and laboratories.
If a country will be able to detect the virus in the humans fast then it can treat the patients fast so that the economy can revive faster.
How much will the test cost?
These new tests will be made available to the low and middle income countries at the maximum rate of $5 per unit according to the World Health Organization.
WHO director believes that these tests could become cheap in the coming future.
When will these tests be available in India?
The RDT tests will be made available in India and other countries in a period of six months.
The WHO has not specifically mentioned the date for India's availability.
By Gayatri Yellayi