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Taiwan institute unveils COVID-19 rapid testing kit prototype that works like a typical pregnancy test

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Taiwan's National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) and National Defense Medical Center on Wednesday jointly revealed a prototype of a rapid diagnostic test for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The test works by placing a fluid sample from the patient's upper respiratory tract onto a test strip, and if two lines appear, it means the patient has SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. One line indicates a negative result.

The test results show up in about 15 minutes, said Liao Ching-len, director of the NHRI's Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology.

The rapid screening test uses a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) antibody, which has proven effective in detecting SARS-CoV-2, he said.

According to Liao, the antibody has been reactive to SARS-CoV-2 viruses developed in three different labs, but does not react to other viruses that cause the common cold or strains of the Influenza A virus, such as H1N1. This means flu patients will not be misdiagnosed with COVID-19, he said.

The rapid screening test is meant to supplement, not replace, the nucleic acid tests (NAT), the current COVID-19 testing method that detects the genetic material of a microorganism, Liao said.

The prototype of the new test was unveiled at a meeting with 22 manufacturers, one of which will be chosen by the NHRI to further develop and mass produce the rapid screening test.

The manufacturer will have to obtain permission from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to produce the test commercially, after which they could begin mass production, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) official Tai Chien-cheng said, estimating a three-month time frame. (By CNA)

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