A set of agreements to make available affordable, high-quality COVID-19 antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag RDTs) to low and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been announced by the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
Organisations involved in the milestone agreement include the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Global Fund, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
As part of this effort, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has executed separate volume guarantee agreements with two RDT producers, which will make available to LMICs 120 million Ag RDTs - priced at a maximum of US$5 (€4.26) per unit - over a period of six months.
These tests provide results in 15-30 minutes, rather than hours or days, and will enable expansion of COVID-19 testing, particularly in countries without extensive laboratory facilities and staff to implement molecular (polymerase-chain reaction or PCR) testing.
The Ag RDTs are highly portable, reliable, and easy to administer, and will help better track COVID-19 spread globally, said the WHO.
The Global Fund has announced an initial US$50 (€42.61) million from its COVID-19 Response Mechanism to enable countries to purchase at least 10 million Ag RDTs at the guaranteed price.
The roll out of these tests in up to 20 African countries will start in October.