Argentina seeks to export to various countries the test that local scientists have developed to detect the coronavirus, which highlights the simplicity of its operation, the speed of yielding the result and its low cost.
“We have received requests so that these countries can validate it. They have asked us for the order of 500 determinations (test). In all places it is validated prior to purchase,” said Argentina’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation on Thursday, Roberto Salvarezza, at the Dr. Cesar Milstein Institute of Science and Technology (ICT Milstein) in Buenos Aires.
This center is working to prepare next week the first consignment, for national use, of NEOKIT-COVID-19, which, developed by a group of five scientists, allows indicating in less than two hours, based on a respiratory sample, whether or not a person is infected with COVID-19.
For the time being, the Government of Alberto Fernández will ensure that the demand for tests in Argentine hospitals is supplied, after which it will plan its plan to sell abroad, in case the interested countries validate the product.
“It is a development which its fundamental characteristic is its simplicity,” explained Adrián Vojnov, leader of the team that designed the kit, in statements to international media.
According to the expert, the fundamental difference between this test – produced in Argentina with national and imported inputs – and the polymerase chain reaction tests – known as PCR, the most common – is that you do not need complex equipment or highly personal qualified to maneuver it.
LESS FALSE POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE
NEOKIT-COVID-19 has a high degree of analytical sensitivity and specificity, reducing the possibility of false negatives or positives.
The procedure is as follows: the sample to be analyzed is placed in a tube with a mixture of reagents with dyes that must subsequently be closed and incubated at a temperature of 64 degrees Celsius for about one hour.
If after that time, when uncovered, the mixture is lilac, the result is negative, but if it changed to light blue, it is positive.
This test will increase the number of exams in the country, which in recent days has reached records of infections by coronavirus (so far there are more than 9,000 infected and 404 deaths) after almost two months of practically stable curve.
In particular, they are expected to be of great use in the poorest neighborhoods, where concern is growing about how quickly the disease is spreading.
“I hope that there will be more testing, that a greater number of people can be reached, which will allow us to detect positives more quickly and isolate them,” said Vojnov.
The minister stressed that in addition to the speed in obtaining the result and the simplification of the equipment, the cost of production is also lower.
“Because normally we have to go out and look (abroad) for a reagent that is currently in the order of 15-20 dollars, and this can be manufactured at approximately half that cost, which is an advantage for Argentina important operation, “he emphasized.
Vojnov specified that, although it is still being evaluated, the cost of these tests will be around $ 8 to $ 10, “less than half what a PCR kit comes out with.”
EXPERIENCE IN OTHER TESTS
The ICT Milstein group of researchers – made up of professionals from the public body Conicet and the Pablo Cassará Foundation – was working on the development of a similar test that detected dengue, zika and chikungunya when the COVID-19 pandemic began, which led them to reorient the focus towards the coronavirus, with the support of the Government.