May 20, 2020 / 2:43 AM / 16 days ago

Argentine scientists working on low-cost two-hour coronavirus test

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine scientists are producing what they call a fast and inexpensive coronavirus test, which according to the government has captured the interest of other countries.

The new test, called “NEOKIT-COVID-19”, allows detection of the virus in less than two hours, developers say.

“It is a simple, cheap and readily available technique,” Santiago Werbajh, an epidemiologist at the Pablo Cassara Foundation, an organization that created the Cesar Milstein Institute of Science and Technology, a public-private entity where it was developed, told Reuters.

“The costs are low, approximately $8, and the simple thing is because of the time and handling, which can be used on an outpatient basis for mass testing, availability will be greater than with current techniques,” Werbajh added.

In Argentina - where 8,371 cases of COVID-19 have been registered, of which 384 were fatal - 108,634 tests have been carried out for the disease so far. The country has 45 million inhabitants.

“We are willing to supply not only neighboring countries, but other countries, in fact there has already been contact with foreign embassies interested in accessing this kit,” said the Argentine Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Roberto Salvarezza.

Argentina’s heavily populated areas have been in lockdown since March 20.

Reporting by Miguel Lobianco, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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