The World Health Organization has approved the first rapid test for detecting Ebola, providing health workers with a way to quickly identify patients who have been infected with the virus, reports The Guardian. The test returns results in 15 minutes and is planned for use in West Africa, where the Ebola epidemic continues even as new infections begin to taper. That quick turnaround is a dramatic change from current testing, which reportedly requires around four to six hours in a lab, but is often held up for days because of delays while transporting samples.
The test is known as the ReEBOV Antigen rapid test and is made by Corgenix, a medical company in the US. Corgenix's test is said to be able to correctly identify 92 percent of patients with Ebola and 85 percent of patients without it. That's less accurate than a lab test, but it'll allow health workers to keep healthy patients or patients with other illnesses out of clinics that are treating Ebola, preventing the virus from spreading further. Since the outbreak began, there have been over 23,000 reported cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, with deaths now reaching over 9,300.
It's not stated how soon the rapid tests will be put to use. Reuters reports that Corgenix needs another week or two to finish working with the FDA and that it is still determining pricing.