ReEBOV Rapid Test gets WHO fast-track green light

WHO quickly approved an Ebola field test kit for use in remote areas. | World Health Organization

The World Health Organization approved a rapid Ebola test on Thursday for use in countries battling the virus.

The ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test Kit was evaluated under WHO's Emergency Assessment and Use procedure, which is used to ensure minimum performance, safety and quality for all diagnostic products related to the Ebola epidemic.

“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,” WHO said. “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.”

However, the ReEBOV kit can reduce that time to 15 minutes and relies on the detection of the Ebola protein instead of nucleic acid. The rapid test can correctly identify about 85 percent of those not infected with the virus and about 92 percent that are infected with Ebola.

WHO said that even though the test is not as accurate as the NAT, the rapid test doesn't require electricity and can be used in less-modernized health care facilities or in mobile units used in remote settings, such as those in West Africa.

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