The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) said Friday it will continue to pursue the development of a fast, easy diagnostic test for Ebola that it can be used in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics or field settings.
The new diagnostics test, called OraQuick, provides test results within just 20 minutes, making it the fastest Ebola test yet. OraQuick requires just a drop of the patient’s blood or the patient’s saliva to detect the virus.
OraSure Technolgies, Inc., which is based near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will create the low-cost, lateral-flow test under a contract worth $1.8 million.
This speed is necessary in areas that are poor in resources, as it would allow health care workers to quarantine, treat and support Ebola patients more efficiently. This could potentially help the patient sooner and also contain the virus from the patient’s neighbors.
“Fast and inexpensive point-of-care diagnostics will improve our ability to control Ebola virus disease outbreaks,” ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Director Robin Robinson said. The authority will oversee the development program for HHS. “Faster diagnosis of Ebola virus infections allows for more immediate treatment and an earlier response to protect public health worldwide.”