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Approximately 120 million rapid COVID-19 antigen tests will be made available to low- and middle-income countries starting next month, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week.
The tests will provide results between 15-30 minutes rather than hours or days, which will enable the expansion of testing particularly in areas with "under-resourced" health systems, the WHO said.
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"This will enable the expansion of testing in particularly in hard to reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing.
Not only are these tests faster than laboratory-based tests, but they will also be offered at a lower price, according to Tedros.
The tests were developed by Abbott and SD Biosensor and were deemed "highly portable, reliable, and easy to administer," according to WHO.
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Agreements between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and producers Abbott and SD Biosensor will allow for the tests will be made available for six months' time at a maximum price of $5 per unit.
While this is "already substantially cheaper than PCR tests," Tedros says they expect the price to come down even further.
The tests will initially be rolled out in up to 20 countries in Africa starting in October.
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