Rapid Test Kits: The First Line of Defense against Covid-19 and Other Infectious Diseases
26 Aug 2021
Early diagnosis of any disease contributes to saving the patientâ€™s life. Whether it is an infectious disease or some rare kind of cancer, early diagnosis is an instrumental part of a patientâ€™s treatment and recovery. Thus, the rapid tests for various chronic illnesses, especially infectious diseases witnessed a huge demand over the last few years.
The spread of Nipah virus, H1N1 flu, and now Covid-19 increased the need for rapid tests that could identify the infection in the patientâ€™s body within a few minutes. As the patientâ€™s health can deteriorate in a matter of minutes, the healthcare companies have invested a colossal amount of money to launch accurate, effective rapid test kits for hospitals and clinics. Moreover, the prime challenge for the companies was to come up with a diagnostic kit at an affordable cost to meet the price margins in developing nations.
According to Allied Market Research, the global rapid tests market is expected to reach $39.10 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 8.9% from 2017 to 2023. The growth in personalized care, rise in promotional activities by manufacturers, and awareness regarding early diagnosis of the disease contribute to the growth of the market.
Covid-19 pandemic and developments in rapid test kits
The world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic. Since its outbreak in 2019, the healthcare sector has witnessed plenty of innovations in diagnostic kits. Although it was quite challenging to develop an accurate Covid-19 test kit in the beginning, now we have rapid test kits that can give results within 10-15 minutes. The increased investment in R&D has helped develop such innovative rapid test kits for the detection of Covid-19 infection.
Recently, a faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital Mahidol University developed a rapid antigen test kit for Covid-19. The team of researchers stated that the rapid test kit can offer results within 15 minutes. The technology is expected to be produced by Affinome Co., Ltd., the Food and Drug Administration- (FDA-) approved Thai manufacturer.
According to the researchers, the rapid antigen test kit offers accurate tests resulted and is easy to use and affordable. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anchalee Tangtrongchit, MD, the HOD of Parasitology Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital stated that the spread of Covid-19 in Thailand increased exponentially in 2021, and the use of traditional RT-PCR fall short during such crisis. Moreover, the cost of waiting for hours for the results of the RT-PCR test was high. Thus, the need for a rapid test kit was imperative.
Similarly, OPTEC International, Inc. a leading developer of UV and UV-C safety equipment announced the launch of novel antigen rapid test kits that can offer results within 10 minutes. The diagnostic kit would be made available for use at businesses and homes across the world and thus, the company has been preparing and stockpiling for the worldwide market. Â
The recently FDA relaxation of the Emergency Use (EUA) rules enable several companies to launch their rapid test kits to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. The company declared to offer 2 versions of the FDA-approved rapid test kits and both are clinically proven to be effective, reliable, and accurate to provide 10-minute results.
Apart from this, the clinical diagnostic specialist, Novacyt, unveiled PathFlow, a novel Covid-19 antigen rapid test. These lateral flow tests would help the company strengthen its Covid-19 portfolio and help countries to keep the pandemic at bay.
The companyâ€™s PathFlow tests are compact, instrument-free, and contain every required component for sample collection, testing, interpretation of the results, and disposal. The diagnosis kits are launched for healthcare professionals and patients at home.
The healthcare systems across the globe learned the hard way that accurate and quick diagnostic kits are an important part of the defense strategy again the pandemic. Novacytâ€™s PathFlow is said to be useful in detecting the Covid-19 virus using either nasopharyngeal or anterior nasal samples within 15 minutes. Moreover, as per the company, the tests show the sensitivity of 93.5% and specificity of 99.3% while using nasal swab specimens whereas it shows the sensitivity of 93.4% and specificity of 99.4% while using nasopharyngeal swab specimens. Both products are immediately available, according to Novacyt.
While the major market players have funding and an essential workforce to develop such rapid test kits, relying on the products from a handful of companies could not help battel the ever-increasing spread of the virus. Thus, Governor Cuomo recently announced to develop New York Forward Rapid Test Program to aid businesses to reopen safely. This will help developing rapid test kits and make them available to the public at an affordable cost. The initial sites under this program would conduct more than 5,000 tests every day and additional sites will be opened in New York City in the coming weeks.
Rapid test kits and challenges to overcome
Rapid test kits for Covid-19 and other infections could go a long way if paired with essential infrastructure. The lack of a skilled workforce and increased demand in a high-density population hamper the overall healthcare system of the country. The quick interpretation of samples helps speed up the response in isolating the individual and offers medical help in case of emergency. Thus, test kits with faster interpretation are desperately needed across the world, especially in the U.S., India, and Brazil, where the number of Covid-19 cases has been increasing and the threat of another wave of the disease is imminent.
In terms of disease control, the faster testing kits are the only of recognizing the Covid-19 infected patients and controlling the chain of infection. Waiting for herd immunity through vaccination and exposure is a gamble with countless human lives, healthcare infrastructure, and the countryâ€™s overall growth.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hampered the global GDP and even after one and a half years, the threat of Covid-19 variants could leave us helpless. This experience would help us battel any upcoming worldwide spread of diseases and the development of such rapid test kits for infectious diseases are the only line of defense we would ever have.
Chief editor of review team at FinancesOnline
Chief editor of review team at FinancesOnline Alex Hillsberg is an expert in the area of B2B and SaaS related products. He has worked for several B2B startups in the past and gathered a lot of first hand knowledge about the industry during that time.