As governments scramble to contain new surges of Covid-19, the World Health Organization announced on Monday that a new initiative will supply 120 million affordable, rapid antigen tests to low- and middle-income countries.
The tests, which will cost just $5 and deliver results in 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, could save thousands of lives.
They also have the potential to transform the way governments react to the pandemic, enabling officials to more quickly detect and respond to outbreaks before they spread.
“High-quality rapid tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is key to quickly tracing and isolating contacts and breaking the chains of transmission,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said.
“The tests are a critical tool for governments as they look to reopen economies and ultimately save both lives and livelihoods.”
The news, which came as the world eclipsed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, is a small ray of hope in the fight against the virus.