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Malawi gets Abbott Covid-19 rapid tester which gives results in 15 minutes

Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device_Pac&Cassette_Front

One of the world’s leading healthcare companies Abbott has launched a Covid-19 testing device, the Abbott’s Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test which provides test results in under 15 minutes in Malawi.

Over 200 testing sites and communities in Malawi could now receive access to the testing devices.

In a statement, Abbott touts the WHO-approved Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device as a reliable and affordable tool for healthcare professionals in the detection of active coronavirus infections at massive scale, saying it delivers test results in as early as 15 minutes with no instrumentation and using proven lateral flow technology.

“Rapid antigen tests can enable frequent COVID-19 testing at mass scale so that those who are infected can be identified quickly and to help slow the spread of virus. Abbott has leveraged its leadership in infectious diseases to create a powerful tool that makes large-scale testing fast, affordable and accessible and is working with local authorities to bring this test to Malawi,” said Bassem Bibi, vice president and general manager of Africa, Rapid Diagnostics, Abbott.

The COVID-19 has killed 187 people in Malawi, the latest death occurring on Sunday in Lilongwe. Malawi had over 6,060 confirmed cases as of December 13, 2020.

The Ministry of Health has welcomed the Abbott’s Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test device saying it will help accelerate COVID-19 tests as well as provide the opportunity for mass testing. Hitherto, COVID-19 test outcomes could take up to seven days or even weeks before results are confirmed.

Head of the National Laboratory Services in the Ministry of Health Joseph Bitilinyu-Bangoh said the new testing device will increase pace and coverage of COVID-19 testing.

“In the past, manual data collection and reporting, which could take days or longer to reach the national program, limited the effectiveness of our response to the pandemic. With the Sympheos system, we now have a real-time tool that allows us to get ahead of rather than behind the pandemic,” said Bitilinyu-Bangoh in the statement.

“In the midst of a pandemic, it’s critical to be able to see where outbreaks are occurring so we can quickly get urgently needed medical supplies to those areas for treatment and care,” added Bangoh who is also a senior immunologist in the Ministry.

Abbott said by mid-November, the Ministry of Health in Malawi began deploying Panbio rapid antigen tests and the Sympheos system across hospitals in district hospitals in Mwanza, Karong and Mchinji and a health center in Ndirande, Blantyre.

“Over time, the implementation will be scaled up to more than 200 sites to make testing more accessible to communities,” said the statement.

According to the Director of Health Technical Support Services in the Ministry of Health Godfrey Kadewere, current testing for COVID -19 is limited to test centres that use RT-PCR protocol at 11 diagnostic centres, resulting in delays with getting results. “There has been less coverage of COVID-19 testing and high turnaround time as specimens referred to conventional testing centers,” he said. With Abbott’s Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test, the turnaround time could be dramatically cut.

It said along with the Panbio rapid antigen test, Abbott is providing Malawi with its Sympheos™ connectivity solution which combines a rapid antigen test with a mobile app, web portal, and visual dashboard reporting tool so that healthcare providers and local officials can access decentralized test data in real-time and deploy resources where they are needed most.

“The test data uploaded into the Sympheos system is updated three times per day so that the most recent data is available to decision-makers, which is critical to deploying resources to locations experiencing disease outbreaks,” it said.

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