FAQ: What’s the 15-Min COVID Test? When Can Indians Access It?

How effective are these 15-minute COVID tests? Here’s what we know till now.

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About 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for coronavirus, which will provide results within 15-30 minutes, will be made available to low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization had said earlier in October. Dubbed a "game-changer," these tests are expected to be affordable, accurate and save thousands of lives across the world.

What are these 15-minute tests? How effective are they? Here's what we know till now.

What is the rapid-diagnostic COVID-19 test?

The rapid-diagnostic tests (RDT) are antigen-based tests that provide results in rapid-diagnostic. They are regarded as highly portable, reliable, and easy to administer, making testing possible in near-person, decentralised healthcare settings.

Who is manufacturing the these 15-minute tests?

Different manufactures are working on producing the 15-minute tests. While South Korea-based SD Biosensor has received emergency approval from the WHO, US-based Abbott is expected to receive the approval soon.

How exactly do these tests work?

The rapid tests look for antigens, or proteins found on the surface of the virus. According to the FDA, a healthcare provider swabs the patient’s nose and places the sample on a test card containing a testing reagent. About 15 minutes later, the provider reads the results from the testing card. Similar to some pregnancy tests, results are indicated by the number of lines.

How effective is it?

They are generally considered less accurate – though much faster – than higher-grade genetic tests, known as PCR tests.

How is the RDT better than the RT-PCR test then?

Although less accurate, the test is very fast and hence could transform tracking of COVID-19 in developing countries, which have a shortage of healthcare workers and laboratories. If we are able to detect coronavirus fast then we can treat the patients and also open up economic activities.

How much will the test cost?

These tests will be made available to low- and middle-income countries at a maximum of $5 per unit, the World Health Organization said. These tests might be priced at an average of Rs 350 in India.

This agreement was made between Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation RDT producers Abbott and SD Biosensor.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that the tests might become cheaper in a later phase.

When will they be available in India?

The tests will be made available in over six months across the world. There has been no specific announcement made with regard to India yet.

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