Machine to reduce wait time for COVID-19 test results being obtained by Guyana

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Guyana Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, has disclosed that the Government of Guyana will soon obtain a specialised machine that will see the waiting time for Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) test results being cut down to15-45 minutes.
The announcement was made during the “Budget 2020: Our Plan to Prosperity” programme aired on the National Communications Network (NCN). Dr. Anthony who was a guest on the programme disclosed that the machine, worth $52 million, will soon arrive in Guyana to speed up the processing of COVID-19 tests.
The Minister also disclosed that the machine will process samples using the molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory.
“In terms of PCR [testing], in a very short period we should have an additional capacity to be able to work faster and to do more,” Dr. Anthony said. He added: “They have high levels of accuracy, they’re faster – within 15-45 minutes for the test.” Currently, results are available 24 hours after the sample is taken.
Minister Anthony noted that the machine is one of the many interventions made by the Government to speed up the process so that persons can have results earlier.

During the programme, the Minister also disclosed that the government is currently exploring other strategies to test for the disease, following a proposal from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
He added that a technical team from the Ministry is currently reviewing two types of strips proposed by PAHO that will test for the COVID-19 antigen, and, once approved, they will be procured through PAHO.
In addition, Dr. Anthony disclosed that some $9.8 million will be made available, through a specialized programme, which will see the purchasing of cartridges that will complement the acquisition of two point-of-care immunodiagnostic machines acquired under the same programme.

Meanwhile, the Minister disclosed that the Government is currently awaiting over 1000 COVID-19 cartridges which will be used to obtain test samples from patients. This, according to Dr. Anthony, will reduce the challenges associated with transporting samples to Georgetown.

“We have those machines in Guyana already, but what we don’t have is the cartridges we have to use…. As soon as those cartridges come, we are going to train people from the outlying areas to use these machines and then deploy these machines out to those regions,” Dr. Anthony said.

“Within another few weeks or so, we will be able to shift from PCR to be able to still test for the antigen – the virus, but using a point-of-care machine that will be right at the clinic,” he added.

Since taking office in August, the new Administration has seen an increase in testing. The Ministry has been conducting nearly 250 tests daily compared with 30-40 tests per day recorded under the previous Administration.
Nevertheless, the Government has since allocated some $51.7 billion to the Ministry of Health which the Government hopes will assist in the fight against the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 and eventually to reduce its spread in Guyana.

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