High-income countries currently perform more than 250 COVID-19 tests/day per 100,000 people, the rate is ten times lower in poorer countries.
Rabat – Unitaid, a global health platform for low and middle-income countries, and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) have signed an agreement to cut by half the prices of rapid antigenic tests for COVID-19.
The agreement, which is set to benefit low and middle-income countries, was announced Friday during a UN press briefing in Geneva. It will ensure equitable access to antigen-detecting rapid testing by increasing the manufacturing capacity of the companies involved to supply such tests.
The availability of these tests will meet about half of the estimated testing needs for low and middle-income countries, said Herve Verhoosel, the head of communications for Unitaid.
The initiative also allows cutting the price of rapid tests by half, from 5 to 2.5 dollars each.
Approximately 264 million tests could be produced within 12 months of the agreement, added Verhoosel.
COVID-19 infection detection tests are a crucial tool to fight the pandemic by detecting as early as possible the outbreaks of infection, as well as providing adequate patient care and vital data to inform decision-makers.
High-income countries currently perform more than 250 tests/day per 100,000 people, the rate is ten times lower in poorer countries. Unitaid reports about 25 tests per 100,000 people in low-income countries.
The spokesperson for Unitaid attributed weak testing in low and middle-income countries to “the fragility of health systems and dependence on foreign supply.”
Antigenic tests are less efficient than PCR tests, with the advantage that they do not require laboratory analysis and provide a result in about 15 minutes.
Morocco’s testing capacities to detect new COVID-19 cases have declined in recent months. Morocco used to carry out 26,000 tests per day, whereas now the country performs less than 10,000 tests every day.
Morocco’s health authorities performed another 16,330 tests over the past 24 hours, bringing the total of screening tests performed since the emergence of the virus to 4.8 million.