Currently, logistical challenges hinder responses to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo as the affected communities are in a remote and densely-forested area of the country. The Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based test currently being used to test for Lassa virus and Ebola virus requires advanced laboratory infrastructure, a cold chain, and expensive reagents. These are lacking in many African countries and as such the PCR-based test is not logistically viable and scalable across the continent.

Though this new diagnostic will enable countries to get Ebola and Lassa virus tests to more people, it may take a while before it can be deployed due to regulatory and production hurdles. Several point-of-care diagnostics for Covid -19 similar to the $1 test being developed by Senegalese scientists were found to give an unacceptable rate of false results.

Though the new Ebola and Lassa virus test is based on a different technology, the WHO and regulatory agencies are often cautious when dealing with a new point-of-care test. This may apply to the new virus tests considering that it is based on the first-ever CRISPR tool approved (Emergency Use Authorization) by the US Food and Drug Administration just four months ago for a coronavirus CRISPR test to be used during this pandemic.

But, if the Ebola and Lassa virus test is approved and mass-produced in Africa then local authorities, as well as patents, will be able to afford a test.

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