COVID-19 ECHO Session #26: Unpacking the Global Launch of COVID-19 Ag-RDT Testing

October 10, 2020

On 9 October 2020, this COVID-19 ECHO session and expert panel was convened to discuss what, why, and how the COVID-19 antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag RDTs) can be rolled out for optimal clinical and public health outcomes in Africa. Ag RDTs are fast and easy-to-deploy diagnostic methods that take 10 – 15 minutes to detect SARS-CoV-2. They could help quickly inform decisions to reopen economies and borders in Africa. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator aims to make available 120 million affordable RDTs for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), it provides an opportunity for the LMICs to expand testing to areas with limited capacity and limited access to molecular technologies. This session explores the implication of these efforts and how coordinated implementation will take place with discussions around quality assurance, supply chain distribution, finance and timelines. Dr Yenew Kebede, Head of Laboratory Services at Africa CDC explains the global partnership and what this means for Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT). He explains how this will be an important intervention to continue the scale up of testing in the African Union member states and aid in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, among other interventions. Dr Lara Vojnov, Diagnostics Advisor at World Health Organization, highlights the the first two Ag RDTs approved by WHO on Emergency Use Listings (EUL): Abbott’s PanBio and SD Biosensor’s Standard Q Ag test kit for COVID-19. Dr Vojnov also discusses the usefulness and efforts that WHO are making to expand testing in order to control the pandemic. Dr Trevor Peter, Senior Scientific Director at Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), discusses the implementation activities, the potential barriers and learning for the deployment of RDTs. Ms Smiljka de Lussigny, Programme Manager for HIV Molecular Diagnostics at UNITAID, explains what opportunities are available with antigen tests and the priorities that need to be made to ensure effective use of these new diagnostics in the middle of the pandemic. Dr Sergio Carmona, Chief Access Officer at Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), introduces the ACT Accelerator as a framework of collaboration between global partners, with the aim of accelerating equitable access to tools to combat COVID-19. Mr Aziz Azizkhon Jafarov, Manager of Global Sourcing Health Technologies at the Global Fund, explains the process of initiating these procurements with suppliers, and how the countries will leverage the Global Fund to access these products and other processes of procurement. Please follow the links posted here to view the recorded video session on ASLM’s YouTube channel.