BOSTON (WWLP) – The only Ebola tests available now are time-consuming and aren’t advanced enough to detect the virus in its early stages. Efforts are now underway to create a more reliable test.
Treating Ebola early-on is key to fighting the deadly virus, but current tests are slow and susceptible to cross-contamination. The state announced plans to team up with life sciences companies to develop a new test that’s cheaper and easier to use, with quicker results.
According to Dr. George Whitesides of Diagnostics for All, “You take a finger prick, you put it on, you wait for a few minutes, you move the dial up and down and you get an answer.”
Governor Deval Patrick announced a $1-million grant to speed up the development process. The new test would be the first of its kind, and would launch in countries hardest hit by Ebola. That’s Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Ten people have been treated for the deadly virus here in the U.S., including Doctor Richard Sacra, who contracted Ebola while treating patients in West Africa. As a survivor, Dr. Sacra says developing an accurate, fast and easy-to-use test is critical to combat the disease.
“As a physician that’s worked in a rural hospital for many years I can tell you the difference this will make in our facility, but put yourself in one of these rural areas, a rural clinic or a rural hospital,” Dr. Sacra said.
So far, nearly 18-thousand people are confirmed or suspected to have Ebola. The virus has killed approximately 6,400 people in West Africa, stressing the need for early detection. The plan is to launch the new test within the next 6 months. It could later be used in airports and emergency rooms around the world.