Taiwan-made rapid test for COVID-19 may be available by year-end: NHRI

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TAIPEI (CNA) — Two Taiwanese research institutes said Monday that they are likely to have a rapid diagnostic test for the COVID-19 coronavirus ready for the market by the end of the year.

A prototype of the test, which was unveiled in early April, produces results within 10-15 minutes and has a 70 percent accuracy rate, according to the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI), which is developing the test in collaboration with the National Defense Medical Center.

The test is carried out 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 COVID-19, while one line indicates a negative result, the NHRI said.

The NHRI said it has already transferred the test technology to five domestic manufacturers, who will further develop the rapid diagnostic test so they can mass produce it.

As Taiwan currently has few COVID-19 patients, however, the clinical studies will have to be conducted abroad, said Tsai Hsi-wen (蔡熙文), head of the NHRI’s Technology Transfer and Incubation Center.

He estimated that the rapid diagnostic test will be on the market by the end of 2020.

Priority will be given to distributors in Taiwan so there will be no domestic shortage, Tsai said, adding that the NHRI is open to signing technology transfer agreements with other manufacturers.