After the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola last year, it’s clear our international public heath operation was woefully unprepared. Over ten thousand deaths and a slow response led many to criticize the bureaucracy of it all.

It also opened up a new market for pharmaceutical companies looking to address needs in an epidemic situation. How can you rush tests in third-world nations where the infrastructure just isn’t there?

Coregenix developed the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test to field in emergency Ebola situations. The World Health Organization cleared the company’s product last week, and Corgenix has earned FDA approval in emergency cases.

Health workers can put a drop of blood on a paper strip to diagnose Ebola. It’s biggest selling point is there is no need for electricity.

The drawback? Accuracy. It can correctly identify Ebola infections in infected patients at a 92 percent rate. Non infections drop to 85 percent. It doesn’t have the accuracy of the standard test that takes 12-24 hours, but it’s promise lies in triage of major population centers.

With the approval comes the caveat from the FDA that Corgenix’s test is not meant to replace traditional screening for Ebola.

Other drugmakers are jumping on the testing bandwagon. Stada has promised to launch a test kit that will diagnose the virus in minutes. The FDA approved Roche’s test kit, which takes up to three hours, for emergency use last year.

Hopefully the renewed awareness and testing options will prevent the 2014 outbreak from repeating itself.

Img Credit: Corgenix Corp.

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