The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the first ever rapid test for detecting Ebola, thereby providing hopes of early detection and ending an epidemic which has killed almost 10,000 people in West Africa till date. This kit was developed by the US firm- Corgenix Medical Corp, and they claim that even though it is not as accurate as standard tests, it can give the results within 15 minutes and doesn’t require electricity which is a big advantage while using in the interiors of West Africa.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said “It’s a first rapid test. It’s definitely a breakthrough.”
The so-called ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test involves putting a drop of blood on a small paper strip and waiting 15 minutes for a reaction in a test tube. It is able to correctly identify about 92 percent of Ebola infected patients and 85 percent of those not infected with the virus, the WHO said.
“The big fear has been that the market gets flooded with tests of unknown quality, or unknown performance, and with Ebola you need to know what are the limitations. A false negative has enormous implications. So does a false positive,” she said.
“So this is not a perfect test but… for a rapid test, (it is) not too bad at all.” “It would be especially useful if a cluster of suspected cases flared up, said Robyn Meurant from the WHO’s department of essential medicines and health products. However, due to the margin of error in this rapid test, it has to be followed up by the standard laboratory test, which has a turnaround time of 12-24hours.
Procurement and roll-out of the test kits will not begin immediately because the company is still working out costing and needs a week or two more to finish administrative procedures with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jasarevic said.
The health charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, which has been at the forefront of the fight against Ebola, had expressed an interest, he said.