WHO approves Corgenix's rapid Ebola blood test

The World Health Organization approved Corgenix Medical's rapid Ebola blood test, which is able to give results in 15 minutes. WHO said that although the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test is less accurate than those traditionally used, "the antigen test is rapid, easy to perform and does not require electricity. It can therefore be used at lower health care facilities or in mobile units for patients in remote settings."

While Ebola is currently tested in laboratories through nucleic acid tests with a turnaround time of 12-24 hours, the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test searches for the Ebola protein, which can be found faster. Corgenix Medical's test correctly identifies about 92 percent of patients infected with Ebola and 85 percent of those not infected with the virus, WHO said. The organisation further noted that if possible, the test's results should be confirmed by the more precise conventional testing.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic indicated that procurement and roll-out of the test will not begin immediately as Corgenix is still working out costing and needs a week or two more to finish administrative procedures.

Robyn Meurant, from WHO's department of essential medicines and health products, noted that "the big fear has been that the market gets flooded with tests of unknown quality, or unknown performance, and with Ebola you need to know what are the limitations. A false negative has enormous implications. So does a false positive." She added that "this is not a perfect test but... for a rapid test, (it is) not too bad at all." WHO is assessing as many as five other rapid test candidates, but Meurant did not indicate when the next approval might be.

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