WHO approves new 15-minute test for Ebola

20 Feb 2015

A major breakthrough in the prevention of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus is gaining pace, now that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved a 15-minute test designed to be easy to administer.

Produced by the medical diagnostic manufacturer Corgenix, the test is reportedly the fastest available in determining whether an individual has been infected with the disease that has killed as many as 10,000 people in west Africa.

The test has also been designed so almost anyone can administer it and it does not require electricity, Reuters reports.

Currently, the only test available for Ebola is known as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. This test requires an elaborate set-up to analyse the patient’s DNA for signs of Ebola and it is not just time-consuming, but expensive, and requires facilities not commonly found in some of the world’s poorest countries.

However, the downside to the 15-minute test is it isn’t as accurate as the more expensive test and it will not be immediately distributed to the affected areas. Corgenix said it is still in the process of sorting out costing for the test while it also seeks its final approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, which could take up to two weeks.

Ebola testing image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic