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Việt Nam successfully develops quick coronavirus test kit

Update: February, 10/2020 - 14:59


The quick test kit shortens the testing time to 70 minutes instead of four hours. — Photo courtesy of Hà Nội University of Science and Technology

HÀ NỘI — Scientists from the School of Biotechnology and Food Technology under Hà Nội University of Science and Technology have developed a novel coronavirus (nCoV) test kit which provides results in 70 minutes instead of four hours like the current method.

The group, with more than ten members and led by Dr Lê Quang Hòa, in collaboration with Innogenex International Technology Science Ltd Company, made the test kit using a Reverse Transcription Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP) technique.

The innovation which amplifies the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of pathogens to identify the virus has made Việt Nam the first country to successfully develop RT-LAMP test kits for nCoV.

Currently, it takes about four hours to get the results if doctors use the standardised testing method called Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), which is applied worldwide and recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The Vietnamese scientists started to conduct studies less than one month ago, on January 15, when China announced the gene characterisation of nCoV.

“The advantage of the new technique is that it is a simple analysis and does not require complicated equipment,” Dr Hòa said.

“It shortens the testing time and simplifies the analysis process.”

According to the doctor, a test costs about VNĐ350,000 (US$15). The price to produce a RT-PCR test kit is VNĐ1 million ($44).

The product has not been tested on the real virus but when it has been tested on samples, the result is accurate, Dr Hòa said.

Because of its short time and simple process, the kits can be applied at district-level healthcare facilities.

“We hope that the health ministry and the Ministry of Science and Technology will support the research team to verify the product and apply it in testing the virus in the future,” he said.

Meanwhile, Huế Central Hospital has become the first healthcare facility in the central region to be able to test nCoV.

Earlier, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology based in Hà Nội; centres for disease control based in Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng and Quảng Ninh; Pasteur Institute in HCM City, Nha Trang City and central Khánh Hòa Province confirmed they could test the new strain of coronavirus.

After learning the technique from Pasteur Institute in HCM City, doctors of Huế Central Hospital conducted the first test on Sunday.

The hospital has invested in more medical supplies and equipment to be able to test 100 more samples in four to five days.

According to hospital leaders, testing the virus at the hospital is very important to the treatment of suspected cases. It helps identify those who test negative for nCoV, cut the number of quarantined people and reduce pressure on the hospital’s resources and infrastructure.

The hospital will conduct the nCoV tests on those who show symptoms of acute respiratory system inflammation, fever, coughing, shortness of breath; those returning from infected areas or who have had close contact with nCoV patients or those suspected of infection.

The central province so far has not recorded any nCoV infection cases. 

Việt Nam has so far confirmed 14 nCoV infection cases, nine of them are from northern Vĩnh Phúc Province. Three of the 14 patients have been discharged from hospital. — VNS

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