15-Minute Ebola Test APPROVED
[CORGENIX MEDICAL CORP.]
BBC NEWS AT BBC.CO.UK/NEWS
The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the first rapid blood test for Ebola. It should allow patients to be identified, isolated and cared for as quickly as possible to bring an end to the outbreak that killed more than 9,300 people as of February 2015.
It is less accurate than conventional tests, but it takes minutes rather than hours to get a result. The test also works without electricity so it can be used in remote regions.
Conventional Ebola testing requires a laboratory to analyze blood for fragments of the virus’ genetic material, taking 12 to 24 hours to get a definitive answer.
The ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test involves putting a drop of blood on a paper strip and waiting 15 minutes for a reaction. The test, developed by United States-based company Corgenix, searches the blood for a different part of the virus. Trials in West Africa suggest the test correctly identifies about 92 percent of people who have Ebola.
WHO said: “While less accurate, the antigen test is rapid, easy to perform and does not require electricity. It can therefore be used at lower health care facilities or in mobile units for patients in remote settings.” It added that, where possible, the results from the rapid test should be confirmed by the more precise conventional testing.
More than 23,250 people had been infected in the outbreak, and 9,380 had died as of February 2015.
“The new test could help to quickly confirm outbreaks in remote areas without the need to send samples to a testing clinic and wait for results,” said Dr. Ben Neuman, a lecturer in virology at the University of Reading in England. “The new test isn’t about saving the lives of infected people, but it can help in the long run by making it easier and quicker to detect Ebola outbreaks.”