12 July 2024

A rapid antigen test kit for COVID-19, developed by researchers at the Biodesign Innovation Centre,   Faculty of Medicine at Mahidol University, has been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration and is expected to be produced, initially, for use by medical personnel this month and for home use by the general public in August.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nitat Sukroong, chief of the centre, said yesterday that the outstanding features of the test kit are that it is simple, 96% accurate and produces a result within 15 minutes, adding that the liquid used in the test will kill the virus in one minute, so it is safe for use in field testing.

Moreover, the price per kit is estimated at 250-300 baht, which is affordable for most people, he added.

Affinome Company Limited, which produces medical equipment, has been chosen to mass produce the test kit, with technology transferred from the Biodesign Innovation Centre. 100,000 kits will be produced this month and 200,000 next.

Dr. Nitat said that the first kits will be for professional use, to be sent to rural or small hospitals, so they can conduct active screening of people in their local communities.

As for home use kits, he said they need to be adjusted for easy and convenient use and are expected to be available to the public in August.

Dr. Nitat said that the kit can detect the virus from the early stage of infection in people who show no symptoms. In the case of a high-risk person, a second test is needed 4-5 days after the first, during which time the subject must stay in isolation and monitor their condition.

A video clip, explaining how to use the kit properly and safely, and how to dispose of the kit after use, is now being made.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anchalee Tungtrongchitr, chief of the Department of Parasitology at the Faculty of Medicine of Mahidol University, said that researchers at the Biodesign Innovation Centre have been developing the test kit since June last year, because the conventional RT-PCR swab tests are time consuming, require more staff and are expensive.

The researchers used specimens collected from COVID patients at Siriraj hospital and samples sent from the Faculty of Medicine at Ramathibodi hospital to develop the tests, until had created a solution which is innovative, easy to use, accurate and affordable, she added.