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Thai researchers develop rapid test kit for COVID-19

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An official sprays disinfectant in a bid to control the new coronavirus at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam in Bangkok on Tuesday. Bangkok Post/Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – Thai researchers have developed a rapid test kit for COVID-19 and plan to launch clinical trials next month.

According to the research team led by Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), the new kit will deliver results in 30 to 45 minutes, compared to the four to six hours currently required.

Chayasith Uttamapinant, a lecturer at the Faculty of Biomolecular Science and Engineering at VISTEC, said more kits are being produced for the planned trials, adding that initial tests were conducted at the Microbiology Department under the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital.

VISTEC council chairman, Pailin Chuchottaworn, said researchers hope test kits will be more widely available so transmissions can be effectively controlled.

The project has won support from the Broad Institute in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the Public Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Sciences, Mahidol University’s Faculty of Science, Prapokklao Chanthaburi Hospital, PTT Plc and Siam Commercial Bank.

It is estimated that up to 4,000 test kits will be produced daily and will cost approximately 475 baht apiece ($14.63).

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned people to not to opt for COVID-19 test kits sold online, saying none of them have been approved by the Thai FDA.

FDA deputy secretary-general Surachoke Tangwiwat said about 10 operators have applied to import coronavirus test kits from China, Singapore, South Korea and Europe, but none of these applications have been approved. He also warned people to avoid using these kits on their own and instead seek medical help if they have symptoms or face the risk of infection.

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