News: Diagnostic test for quick, cheap and portable antigen testing launched

 Countering the pandemic is a multi-pronged strategy, with different countries following their own action plans and criteria to get work/school life back to normal routine. The falling new case rates in several countries has led to the re-opening of essential services, banks & businesses etc but health bodies are still sceptical about reopening some high risk sectors e.g. Tourist stations, Gatherings including sports, political, religious & social and most importantly schools & colleges.

Testing has been a fundamental pillar in deciding the future plan and areas/sectors that need to be opened. WHO along with other leading health authorities recently only recommended PCR based testing of a nasal swab sample. Though about 70 sensitive and necessary to confirm an active infection, the test has several negative points, it being expensive, can only be performed in specialized laboratories and waiting time i.e, about 24 hrs at most centres, making it practically unfeasible for mass testing. Although antibody based device testing is available but that doesn’t confirm an active infection.

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Recently FDA has given emergency use authorization to Abbot a leading diagnostics company to launch a portable rapid antigen based test called BinaxNOW™ according to abbott testing will help facilitate a return to work, school and life with a bit more confidence & they will produce at mass scale to greatly expand access to testing to people who need it.

The test will cost $5 about Rs. 830 and will just take 15 min, it’s paired with, easy-to-use mobile app, called NAVICA™, which works like a secure digital “boarding pass” that can be scanned to enter organizations and other places where people gather.

This first-of-its-kind app, available at no-charge, allows people who test negative to get an encrypted temporary digital NAVICA Pass, similar to an airline boarding pass. NAVICA-enabled organizations will be able to verify an individual’s negative COVID-19 test results by scanning the individual’s digital NAVICA Pass to facilitate entry into facilities, along with hand-washing, social distancing, enhanced cleaning, and mask-wearing.

The test procedure is quite simple requiring a nasal swab collected by a health care provider with-in 7 days of symptom onset, the sample is then directly placed on the test device, result ready within 15 minutes without requiring any machine.
Sensitivity is 97.1% & specificity at 98.5%, the test will be initially available in the USA followed later by other countries. 
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