The World Health Organization has approved the first rapid test for Ebola in a potential breakthrough for ending an epidemic that has killed almost 10,000 people in West Africa, it said on Friday.
The test, developed by U.S. firm Corgenix Medical Corp, is less accurate than the standard test but is easy to perform, does not require electricity, and can give results within 15 minutes, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. The standard laboratory test has a turnaround time of 12-24 hours. While the Corgenix test is not failsafe, it could quickly identify patients who need quarantine and make it much easier to verify rapidly any new outbreaks.
The health charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, which has been at the forefront of the fight against Ebola, had expressed an interest, he said. 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.
Knowing that margin of error is a major help, said Robyn Meurant, from the WHO’s department of essential medicines and health products.
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