RAPID ’15-20 minute’ coronavirus tests have arrived in Spain offering distinct advantages over current diagnostic technology.
A massive 640,000 of the new testing kits began arriving from China and South Korea last Saturday – Spain has to date only conducted 350,000 coronavirus tests since the start of the outbreak.
The new technology – likened to ‘pregnancy tests’ – will slash waiting times to confirm infection by the Covid-19 virus. Spain’s government plans to distribute six million kits across the nation.
Existing technology relies on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
These require trained professionals and take hours to provide a result from a laboratory.
PCR tests look for genetic material of the coronavirus using throat swabs from a suspected patient.
The new tests also rely on throat swabs, but instead look for proteins on the outside of the virus. Results take just 15-20 minutes.
The tests will first be sent to health workers in Spain – 5,400 of whom have tested positive to coronavirus to date.
Kits will then be destined for seniors who are living in residences and care homes, before further supplies will be spread across the nation.
A lack of resources in Spain has meant that the criteria for PCR testing became restrictive.
In Madrid, 85% of people tested were positive – but they were people very likely to be infected and are already showing symptoms.
Mild cases have not been tested, meaning it is impossible to know the real rate of infection among the population.