Saturday 24 October, 2020

PAHO: New COVID-19 rapid diagnostic test will be game changer

PAHO Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.

PAHO Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) believes a new rapid antigen diagnostic test will be a game changer for the coronavirus pandemic in the Americas, including the Caribbean.  

PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne during a news conference said the test will give frontline health workers the power to test and diagnose cases within minutes (not days), at one third of the cost of the traditional PCR test being used.  

“Today PAHO has in its possession hundreds of thousands of this test with millions more expected in the coming weeks. We have built up a stockpile and we are able to access those tests for our member states,” said Etienne.  

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PAHO has already begun to help countries implement new testing protocols so health workers learn how to use the new diagnostic test and record their results.   

PAHO is conducting pilot studies with Ecuador, El Salvador Mexico and Suriname.  

Dr Etienne said with the support of the World Health Organisation, PAHO will be providing the diagnostic test free of cost as it keeps close watch on how they are used.  

The data collected via the study will help countries within and outside the region make the most of this new diagnostic test.  

Etienne said: “I really believe this new rapid diagnostic test can be a game changer for the region of the Americas. I urge member states to partner with PAHO to bring this new test to hospitals and health clinics on the frontlines of our fight against the virus.”  

The PAHO Director said the new rapid diagnostic test is not meant to replace the PCR test which remains the gold standard.  

It is also not intended to be used for testing of travellers.  

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