Greek researchers close to launching own cheaper COVID-19 test

Nurse Tina Nguyen administers a nasal swab at a coronavirus testing site outside International Community Health Services in the Chinatown-International District during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Researchers in Greece say they are close to launching a molecular test to detect COVID-19 which could provide a cheaper alternative to imported kits and uninterrupted access to supplies.

Greece currently uses diagnostic kits imported from a variety of suppliers abroad. The potential new test would use nasal swab samples, two researchers said, and could be available “in the coming future”.

Both researchers requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the project.

Generally, tests both for the virus itself and for the antibodies the immune system produces to fight the infection are becoming more widely available, but they are not perfect. The tests can come back with false positives, false negatives or confoundingly ambiguous results.

The researchers said their test had a more than a 90 percent accuracy rate. Research centres and at least two publicly-funded Greek universities are involved in the project, launched in February, they said.

In an interview this week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the research “great work’.

Greece moved swiftly to contain the virus outbreak by initiating a broad lockdown in March, recording less than 4000 cases, and less than 200 deaths.