The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday that the first rapid Ebola test is now ready for procurement to Ebola affected countries.
The ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test Kit, manufactured by Corgenix Medical Corp was evaluated under WHO’s Emergency Assessment and Use, a procedure established to provide minimum quality, safety and performance assurance for diagnostic products in the context of the Ebola emergency.
Ebola is currently being tested in laboratories largely through the detection of the virus’s nucleic acid (genetic material), using commercial or in-house tests. Nucleic acid tests (NATs) are more accurate but are complex to use and require well-established laboratories and fully trained personnel. In addition, turn-around time can vary between 12 and 24 hours.
The ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test, which can provide results within 15 minutes, is based on detection of the Ebola protein rather than nucleic acid. When compared with the results of a NAT previously listed by WHO and currently being used in the field (RealStar® Filovirus Screen RT-PCR Kit 1.0, altona Diagnostics GmbH), ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test is able to correctly identify about 92% of Ebola infected patients and 85% of those not infected with the virus.
While less accurate, the antigen test is rapid, easy to perform and does not require electricity – it can therefore be used at lower health care facilities or in mobile units for patients in remote settings. Where possible, results from ReEBOV antigen Rapid Test Kit should be confirmed by testing a new blood sample using an approved Ebola NAT.