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Coronavirus Home Test kits for the Pacific Islands

COVID-19 Press Release:

31st March 2020 

The Pacific Development Foundation and KlickEx are one step closer to importing more than 250,000 COVID-19 test kits to the Pacific Islands. 

Chairman of the Pacific Development Foundation, speaking from Government Quarantine in Wellington, New Zealand, said the process has been long and careful. 

“We placed an initial order of 100,000 immunological test kits in early March, but have lifted this to 250,000 for the Pacific, and 800,000 for Australia and New Zealand”, Mr Bell said. 

“We are taking every precaution – and the delays on delivery are due to certifying the type of tests we are able to supply – and the difficulty of making them available to the public on a large scale, while lock-downs are in place. 

The tests are the best for these purposes, we believe. We are targeting ‘rapid’ test kits that detect COVID-19 Antibodies – i.e. the immune system’s response to the virus – which is a different test to the slower “PCR” tests that the government is using, which look for the actual virus itself. We have analysed the trade-offs between cost, accuracy, availability, and believe the opportunity to supply these kits, and the education opportunity that comes with delivering these kits and information packages that we include with them, is 100% the right thing to do”, Bell said. 

“Our tests look for they body’s response. We can find that response immediately, which means results are delivered much faster. But these results are not able to be very accurate before symptoms show on days 3-5. 

We still believe the efforts are worthwhile, offering more than just a ‘novelty’ response. As such, we encourage people to take action, and pre-order the test kits ahead of time, at this stage – knowing we will begin delivering them as soon as circumstances permit”, he said. 

The tests in question are blood-tests for immunological responses to COVID-19. They are relatively inexpensive, compared to clinical diagnostic tests, but still hold merit even at costs less than 9% of the “full” tests being done by clinicians all over the world. Immune tests do not tell you if you “have” COVID-19, but are good at giving an indication whether you “have had it” – which, in early stages of a novel pandemic, are similar statistics. 

While the “full” PCR clinical tests (including a deep nasal swab) is the definitive medical test, and should be the primary test to be relied upon, these PCR tests can take days, and are much more expensive than more simple, “indicator tests”, such as the ones we are offering. “Having put in a tremendous amount of work”, Bell says, “we believe that a significant amount of comfort can be gained by taking simplified tests like these, once a week, for all essential workers, and the population at large. Bulk orders are pennies on the dollar, compared to full tests – and do not burden the health system in the same way. However, especially in the early days of infection, following exposure, these tests do struggle to detect infections (especially before symptoms show) – and can mean that up to one in five infected people may pass the test un-diagnosed, in the first 0-3 days. Therefore we recommend at least two tests – one immediately, and another 5-10 days later (after travel) or before leaving quarantine.” 

“A two-test program is over 99.9% accurate – and can deliver better results faster than a single samples PCR test. The downside is that a positive result may mean that the patient has had covid19 in the past – possibly many years ago, and has fully recovered. So results must be carefully interpreted. We are also undertaking a public education program as well, all of which together, is a fantastic package that we fully support – at a cost that is accessible to the entire population.” 

The Pacific Development Foundation has partnered with KlickEx Pacific, to manage the distribution within the islands. KlickEx has a fantastic database of people, and addresses all across the Pacific – which will greatly enhance automated orders, allocations, and delivery. We are pleased to be working with them. 

“For now – we wait. We wait for government approval so that we can begin confirming orders, and shipping these tests out to hospitals, governments, test centers, and the populations who need them,” Bell says. 

Test Kits like this are estimated to cost up to NZD 250 retail, including test pack, pipettes, blood sampler, and cleaning/disposal equipment. However large order purchases and family subscriptions can reduce this cost to as little as $30 per test for private homes, and potentially under $10 for hospitals and other institutions that have part of the equipment needed, or are already set-up to undertake such processes. The plan is to enable households, businesses, and government departments all across the Pacific to order, collect, or pick up and pay locally, or online via a dedicated website (insert) – and via (insert)

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