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African States First In Line for Rapid Covid-19 Tests

The World Health Organization has announced an agreement to make rapid Covid-19 tests available to lower and middle-income countries across the world. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general said that these “vital” tests will help expand testing in remote areas, “that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests.” The PCR test is the most widespread and most accurate diagnostic test for determining whether someone is currently infected with coronavirus. However, the tests requires specialized supplies, expensive instruments, and the expertise of trained lab technicians which has led to shortages and a testing gap globally. The first orders are expected already to be placed this week and it will be rolled out in up to 20 countries in Africa starting in October. Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund said the tests are hugely valuable as a complement to PCR tests but warned that they are not “a silver bullet.” Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, welcomed the development as it would allow “healthcare workers to quickly isolate cases and treat them while tracing their contacts to cut the transmission chain.”