- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2020

The World Health Organization plans to deploy 120 million rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests to lower- and middle-income countries in an effort to boost testing levels and contact tracing.

More than 33 million people around the world have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, and 998,867 have died from the virus. Experts warn, however, that the true numbers are likely much higher due to a lack of testing and resources in lower- and middle-income countries.

At $5 per testing kit, the rapid tests are generally considered to be less accurate than higher-grade genetic tests known as PCR tests that require several days to turn around results.

“These [rapid] tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.

He called the rollout “good news” and said it will “enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests.”

“We have an agreement, we have seed funding and now we need the full amount of funds to buy these tests.”

• This story is based in part on wire reports.

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