World Health Organisation Approves 15 Minute Ebola Test

February 24th, 2015
World Health Organisation Approves 15 Minute Ebola Test

The World Health Organisation has approved a rapid test for Ebola, it has been confirmed.

Current tests can take up to 24 hours to produce a result, while a new test, which is slightly less accurate, can give results in just 15 minutes. The improved speed of testing should allow people to be isolated and treated much faster, which reduces the risk of the virus spreading and increases the chances of successful treatment. The test also works without the need for electricity, which means that it can be used in rural areas.

The ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test has been developed by an American firm called Corgenix and it works by analysing a blood sample for signs of the Ebola virus. In trials carried out in West Africa, it correctly identified around 92 per cent of cases.

In a statement, the World Health Organisation claimed that the antigen test, while slightly less accurate than the traditional blood analysis test, represents a faster and more accessible solution, as results take just 15 minutes and the test can be used in remote communities where there is no access to mains electricity. The statement also suggests that in cases where formal testing is possible, this would still be the preferred method of diagnosis.

The Ebola outbreak has affected more than 23, 250 people, mainly in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and more than 9,000 people have died.

Dr Ben Neuman, a lecturer in virology from the University of Reading, said that the new test would probably not have much impact on those who have already been infected with the Ebola virus, but it will have a positive impact in the long-term as it will be easier and quicker to diagnose a patient and take steps to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

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