The World Health Organization has announced that the world body and it’s leading partners have agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid-diagnostic tests for the Corona virus. The programme aims 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 five US Dollars apiece, the antigenbased rapid diagnostic tests for which WHO issued an emergency-use listing last week, the programme initially requires 600 million USD. The programme is to be 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. The rapid tests look for antigens or proteins found on the surface of the virus. They are generally considered less accurate – though much faster – than higher-grade genetic tests, known as PCR tests. Those tests require processing with specialty lab equipment and chemicals. Typically that turnaround takes several days to deliver results to patients. Making the announcement, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus yesterday hailed the programme as good news in the fight against COVID-19.
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