Affordable COVID19 Test Kits for Low Middle Income Countries


Global partnership provides 120 million affordable high-quality rapid COVID-19 test kits for low- and middle-income countries

The package of measures to promote full access includes WHO policy guidance on the use of human biology antigen-based rapid diagnostic test reagents, guarantees for the number of manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries, catalytic funds to assist governments in deploying tests, and an initial purchase of US$50 million.

WHO is evaluating several ready-to-use rapid test methods for inclusion in the emergency use list.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has reached an agreement with testing reagent manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor to provide innovative testing kits to low- and middle-income countries at a unit price of up to $5.

The Global Fund promised to provide an initial $50 million to enable countries to purchase new testing reagents. The first batch of orders is expected to be issued this week.

The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the International Drug Procurement Mechanism, the Innovative Diagnostics Foundation, the Clinton Health Initiative and their partners are supporting multiple low- and middle-income countries to accelerate the launch of these tests.

This is the latest move taken by the Acceleration Plan for Obtaining COVID-19 Tools to develop, purchase and distribute key new anti-epidemic tools. In order to meet the unmet testing needs on a global scale, new testing products are urgently needed.

Announcement by Acceleration Plan for Access to COVID-19 Tools

The Acceleration Plan for Access to COVID-19 Tools today announced a series of agreements to provide low- and middle-income countries with affordable high-quality rapid COVID-19 antigen test kits. The organizations participating in the milestone agreement include the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Initiative, the Innovative Diagnostics Foundation, the Global Fund, the International Drug Purchase Mechanism, and the World Health Organization.


As part of this comprehensive end-to-end effort, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has signed batch guarantee agreements with rapid diagnostic test product manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor. 

These two arrangements will provide 120 million rapid antigen diagnostic tests for low- and middle-income countries within six months, with a maximum price of US$5 each. 

These test products can get results in 15-30 minutes instead of a few hours or days. 

Facilitation of PCR Test

This will facilitate the expansion of testing, especially in countries that do not have a large number of laboratory facilities or trained health workers to perform molecular (polymerase chain reaction) testing.


The detection products developed by Abbott and SD Biosensor Company are highly portable, reliable and easy to use, so that they can be detected in dispersed medical and health care institutions closer to users. 

The testing products of these two companies are faster and cheaper than laboratory-based testing, which enables countries to accelerate the pace of testing, tracking and treating COVID-19 patients at the point of care, especially in areas with insufficient health systems. Some other rapid antigen diagnostic test products are also in different stages of development and evaluation.


Expansion of the scale of rapid antigen diagnostic testing

To expand the scale of rapid antigen diagnostic testing, the Global Fund announced today that it has provided $50 million in initial funding from its COVID-19 response mechanism, enabling countries to purchase at least 10 million new copies for low- and middle-income countries at a guaranteed price.

 Quickly test the products, and it is expected that the first batch of orders will be issued this week through the global fund collective procurement mechanism.


What is Innovative Diagnostics Foundation and WHO doing for COVID?

The Innovative Diagnostics Foundation and WHO are working together to accelerate appropriate use in accordance with WHO’s guidance, including supporting implementation studies and optimizing the use of rapid antigen diagnostic test products in multiple low- and middle-income countries. 

This includes providing a catalytic quantity of test kits to understand how rapid antigen diagnostic tests can best fit the health system.

Whats is the The International Drug Procurement Mechanism doinbg for coronavirus pandemic? 

The International Drug Procurement Mechanism and the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will combine resources to promote these testing products in as many as 20 African countries starting in October 2020. 

This multi-million dollar intervention is currently undergoing the final approval process of two governing bodies. The action aims to attract a number of partners currently actively responding to the COVID-19 epidemic in these countries, such as the Clinton Health Initiative, the African Society of Experimental Medicine, and some local organizations.

 This will support the accelerated COVID-19 testing partnership initiative launched by the African Union in August 2020 to mobilize experts, community workers, materials, and other resources to minimize this outbreak through timely detection, tracking, and treatment of COVID-19 cases. The impact of the epidemic on the African continent.


Effective Virus Detection Strategies require various Detection Products

Testing is a key cornerstone of the response to the COVID-19 epidemic, enabling countries to track and control the virus and prepare for large-scale use after the vaccine is successfully developed. Effective detection strategies require various detection products that can be used in different environments and situations. Although molecular testing methods began to appear within one month after the virus was sequenced, these tests are mainly carried out in laboratories and require infrastructure and well-trained personnel. 

Rapid testing at the point of care to find the virus is faster and cheaper. It is a vital supplement to the testing methods needed to contain and fight the COVID-19 epidemic.


The guidance document issued by the WHO on September 11, 2020 emphasizes that these tests are valuable in areas where there is widespread community transmission, nucleic acid amplification tests cannot be performed, or test results are seriously lagging behind.

 In addition to supporting testing-tracking-isolation strategies, these testing products can help identify or confirm new outbreaks, support outbreak investigations through screening, monitor disease trends, and may be used to detect asymptomatic contacts.


Affordable High-quality COVID-19 test kits for Low Middle Income Countries
COVID Tests for the Poor

The diagnostic preparation pillar of the COVID-19 Tool Acceleration Program is jointly convened by the Innovative Diagnostics Foundation and the Global Fund to work closely with WHO and more than 30 global health expert partners to accelerate innovation, overcome technical, financial and political obstacles, and promote Realize fair access to effective and timely testing. 

This unprecedented global cooperation facilitated the development and deployment of the first rapid antigen diagnostic test kit included on the WHO's emergency use list within 8 months of the first virus identification.

 In contrast, it took nearly five years to develop the first rapid diagnostic test kit for HIV. The WHO is currently reviewing more rapid antigen diagnostic test products for the diagnosis of COVID-19. 

Overall, the diagnostic pillar of the accelerated plan aims to facilitate the provision of 500 million test kits to low- and middle-income countries within 12 months.


These agreements are critical to achieving the key goal of the Acceleration Plan for Access to COVID-19 Tools to ensure that all countries, regardless of income, have fair access to new testing products and tools to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic.

 The package of measures to facilitate the acquisition of rapid antigen diagnostic kits has been implemented very quickly, indicating that the acceleration plan has a wide range of influence. 

Current and future achievements in the testing field will complement similar milestones in the vaccine and treatment pillars.


High-quality rapid tests show us where the virus is hiding

WHO Director-General Dr. Tan Desai said: “High-quality rapid tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is the key to fast tracking and isolating contacts and breaking the chain of transmission. 

These test kits are important for governments. Tools because they want to reopen the economy and ultimately save lives and livelihoods."


Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation, said: 

“Testing is an important tool in the fight against COVID-19. We are pleased to join the partnership to promote ensuring that the latest high-quality diagnostic tools are not only available to the highest price Low-income countries can provide them at affordable prices. 

In addition, all the actions announced today demonstrate that the Acceleration Program for Access to COVID-19 Tools is increasingly successful in promoting global cooperation to respond to global crises in a fair and effective manner."


Dr. Iain Barton, Chief Executive Officer of the Clinton Health Initiative, said:

 "These agreements will help ensure that millions, tens of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries have access to high-quality rapid testing in rural and urban areas. This has the potential to enable governments 

The ability to respond to the pandemic has undergone revolutionary changes, enabling rapid diagnosis and response to contain local virus outbreaks before the epidemic spreads."


Andrea f. Wainer, Abbott’s executive vice president of rapid and molecular diagnostics, said: “Abbott is pleased to bring our Panbio rapid antigen detection reagents and Sympheos digital solutions for COVID-19 to low-income and middle-income companies through this innovative partnership. 

The people and health authorities of the income countries. For a long time, we have been committed to ensuring that the technologies that change our lives are affordable and available.

 For decades, we have been using our malaria, HIV, hepatitis and other deadly infections Rapid disease detection products support many countries."


Hyo-Keun Lee, CEO of SD Biosensor, said: 

"We at SD Biosensor are pleased to provide STANDARD Q COVID-19 rapid antigen detection products to people who really need rapid and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19. 

Through this partnership we will continue to do our best to provide the highest quality rapid detection kits for COVID-19 antigen in response to the epidemic."


Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: 

“Antigen testing is an important supplement to polymerase chain reaction testing and is essential for expanding testing capabilities across Africa. 

The beauty of antigen testing is that it is fast and produces fast results. This will enable medical staff to quickly isolate and treat cases while tracing their contacts to cut the chain of transmission."


Dr. Philippe Duneton, Interim Executive Director of the International Drug Procurement Mechanism, said: 

"Access to these ready-to-use rapid test reagents is a game changer in the fight against the epidemic. We are working hard to support countries in the best possible way to rapidly deploy and use these new test reagents. 

Today’s news shows that partner agencies of the Acceleration Plan for Access to COVID-19 Tools can make a significant contribution to the fight against the epidemic through cooperation."


Dr. Carolyn Gomes, Special Advisor to the Council of the ProActividad Organization in Jamaica and Alternate Member of the Global Fund (NGO for developing countries), said:

“Ensuring fair access to rapid diagnostic testing products is essential for all countries to control the COVID-19 epidemic and open up the world economy. Ensure that Affordability is an important step forward.

 The testing kits that front-line workers can use at the point of care will greatly facilitate the community’s access to testing.

 In order to ensure that those who need it the most have access to it, there is a need to increase access to COVID -19 Tool Acceleration Program support, especially the diagnostic pillar of the Acceleration Program. More funds are needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable groups."


Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said:

 "Acquisition of COVID-19 tools to accelerate the plan is in action. This proves that by working together on a large-scale global scale, we can develop and deploy an important new tool to help contain and fight this time against a pandemic. 

This is not just a new test reagent, the key lies in funding and deployment plans to make it quickly available where it is needed. This is the power of global cooperation."


Dr. Catharina Boehner, Chief Executive Officer of the Innovative Diagnostics Foundation, said: "With this antigen rapid diagnostic test kit, partners who have acquired the COVID-19 tool acceleration program have already obtained rapid expansion of COVID-19 testing in low- and middle-income countries. A much-needed tool. 

With financial support from several countries, we have made great progress. 

However, to ensure that everyone who needs testing is found and prices are lowered, we urgently need large amounts of funding from public, charitable and multilateral sources."


Regarding the Acceleration Plan for Access to COVID-19 Tools

The Acceleration Program for Access to COVID-19 Tools is a pioneering new global cooperation initiative aimed at accelerating the development, production, and fair access to COVID-19 testing methods, treatments, and vaccines.

 In April 2020, WHO, the European Commission, France and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation jointly initiated the establishment in response to the call of the leaders of the G20. 

The Acceleration Plan for Access to COVID-19 Tools is not a decision-making body or a new organization, but is dedicated to accelerating collaborative efforts between existing organizations to end the pandemic. 

This is a collaborative framework that aims to enable key actors to work together through accelerated development, fair distribution, and expanded delivery of test kits, treatments, and vaccines to end the pandemic as soon as possible, thereby protecting the health system and restoring it in the near future Society and economy. 

It draws on the leading experience of the Global Health Organization, which is responding to the world’s toughest health challenges. Through joint efforts, these organizations can achieve more ambitious new results against COVID-19. 

The participating members jointly pledge to ensure that everyone has access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19, and work together to achieve this goal in an unprecedented partnership. 

The Acceleration Program for Acquiring COVID-19 Tools has four areas of work: 

  1. Diagnostic methods
  2. Treatment methods
  3. Vaccines
  4. Connection to the health system

The workflow for acquisition and distribution is cross-cutting.


The key to the diagnostic pillar of the Accelerated COVID-19 Tool Access Plan is to ensure that everyone who needs testing can be tested.

 Related work covers research and development, market preparation, procurement and country preparation.

What are the achievements so far in COVID testing?

 Achievements so far include laboratory training in cooperation with the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early February and a set of online courses deployed within a few weeks. 

The Diagnostic Reagents Consortium has purchased nearly 20 million test kits to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have access to diagnostic services and prepare for the implementation of tests and treatments in these countries. 

Independent evaluation of antibody testing is also ongoing, because high-quality antibody testing is essential to understand the population’s immune status in order to promote vaccines in the future.

Related Reading:

  • Adenovirus Tests and Treatment


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