SensNews March 2020

Sensor100 Page 4 Coronavirus DiagnosticTests The coronavirus outbreak was labelled a pandemic by theWorld Health Organization (WHO) on March 11. It is a term that the organisation had refrained from using before then; WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was now using the term be- cause of deep concern over “alarming levels of inaction” over the virus. The US and the UK are prominent among countries which have delayed taking appropriate action to con- trol spread of the virus. By March 31, 2020, the virus had infected over 819,000 people worldwide, and the number of deaths had totaled more than 39,700. TheWHO is asking all countries to: ¡ activate and scale-up emergency response mechanisms ¡ communicate with people about the risks and how they can protect themselves ¡ find, isolate, test and treat every Covid-19 case and trace every contact “With COVID-19 rapidly spreading around the planet, the efficient detection of the CoV2 virus is pivotal to isolate infected individuals as early as possible, support them in whatever way possible, and thus prevent the further uncontrolled spread of the disease. Currently, the most-performed tests are detecting snippets of the virus’ genetic material, its RNA, by amplifying them with a technique known as “polymer- ase chain reaction” (PCR) from nasopharyngeal swabs taken from individuals’ noses and throats. The tests, however, have severe limitations that stand in the way of effectively decid- ing whether people in the wider communities are infected or not.Although PCR- based tests can detect the virus’s RNA early on in the disease, test kits are only available for a fraction of people that need to be tested, and they require trained health care workers, specialized laboratory equipment, and significant time to be performed. In addition, health care workers that are carrying out testing are espe- cially prone to being infected by CoV2.” TheWyss Institute’s response to COVID-19: Beating back the coronavirus March 25