Is a rapid COVID-19 test kit that gives result in 15 minutes really on the way?

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Thailand reportedly developed a COVID-19 rapid test kit that it is preparing for clinical trials, according to a report from the local daily newspaper Bangkok Post.

The post detailed that a team from the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC) developed the rapid test kit that can give out the result in 30 to 45 minutes. This is significantly faster than regular COVID-19 tests that require around 6 hours to several days to obtain the result.

More kits are in production for the planned trials, according to Chayasith Uttamapinant, VISTEC lecturer from the Faculty of Biomolecular Science and Engineering. The initial tests were conducted at the Microbiology Department under the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital.

There is high hope that the kits will be available at a wider range to aid in effectively controlling transmissions, according to VISTEC Council Chairman Pailin Chuchottaworn.

An estimate of 4,000 test kits will be produced daily. Each kit will cost 475 Baht (P732.75).

The project is supported by the Broad Institute in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the Public Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Sciences, Mahidol University’s Faculty of Science, Prapokklao Chanthaburi Hospital, PTT Plc, and Siam Commercial Bank.

Meanwhile, a report from Sky News said that Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University developed a COVID-19 test kit that can give results in 15 minutes. This new rapid test kit detects antibodies (IgG & IgM) in the blood serum or plasma, which can possibly indicate that a patient either currently or previously had COVID-19, instead of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests from nasal and throat swabs.

However, patients who get positive results are sent for a follow-up PCR test, while those who are negative are told to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Chulalongkorn University’s test kit is still waiting for approval from the government before it can be rolled out and tested in a nationwide setting.

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