Siriraj unveils new rapid Covid test kits

Siriraj unveils new rapid Covid test kits

Due to be available from next month

The developers of new Covid-19 test kits. (Siriraj Hospital photo)
The developers of new Covid-19 test kits. (Siriraj Hospital photo)

The Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital has unveiled its newly developed Covid-19 test kits which provide results in 15 minutes, and which are expected to be available next month.

Dr Anchalee Tungtrongchitr, head of the faculty's department of parasitology, said Covid-19 transmission has been so widespread that conventional RT-PCR testing cannot cope with rising demand.

The results take a long time to be known while the testing is also costly and involves many medical staff.

In light of this, the faculty's research team began developing rapid antigen test kits starting in June last year, Dr Anchalee said.

The kits have been tested on Covid-19 patients at Siriraj Hospital and Ramathibodi Hospital in line with standards set by the Food and Drug Administration. They were developed early this year, she said.

Dr Nitat Sookrung, the leader of the research project and head of the Biomedical Innovation Design Centre, said the kits are based on immunochromatographic assay technology which can yield precise and accurate results without the use of lab equipment.

Testing takes only 15 minutes and the solution that comes with the test kits can kill the virus in one minute, which can prevent the spread of Covid-19 during field tests, he said.

"The manufacturer said it has the capacity to produce 100,000 kits this month and 200,000 more next month, though we have to wait for the FDA to approve the kits first," Dr Nitat said.

The first batch will be for health professionals at small hospitals or hospitals in rural areas for proactive case finding, he said.

As for home use, the test kits are being adjusted for ease of use by the public and are expected to be sold next month, costing no more than 300 baht each, he added.

"Researchers will produce a video clip to show how to use the kits," Dr Nitat said.

The rapid antigen test kits will be used to screen asymptomatic Covid-19 patients as they can detect the virus in people with high viral loads early.

Early detection means the patients can be treated quickly and isolated from others. If the result of the first test is negative, another will be carried out four to five days afterwards, Dr Nitat added.

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