Vietnam’s new nCoV test kit thrice as fast at one-third the cost

Vietnam has developed test kits for the novel coronavirus that provides results in just 70 minutes as opposed to the current four hours.
February 10, 2020 | 15:16
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The nCoV is cultured inside the lab at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of the institute.

The Reverse Transcription Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP) test kits, produced by a group of scientists from Hanoi's School of Biotechnology and Food Technology, amplify the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of pathogens to identify them. It does this in 70 minutes, while current methods using the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) technique take at least 4 hours.

A test by the new kits would cost VND350,000 ($15), while one with the RT-PCR kit costs around VND1 million ($43), Le Quang Hoa, the lead scientist, said at a conference Saturday.

The scientists began working on developing the new kits after the 2019-nCoV's genome sequence was published on the GenBank sequence database on January 13.

To get their test kits have wider application, the group wants at least 12 RNA samples from the virus to carry out internal tests before registering and mass-producing their product.

Vietnam had announced Friday that it has successfully cultured and isolated the nCoV in the lab, allowing quicker test results and paving the way for development of a new vaccine.

The country has so far confirmed 13 infections: six workers returning from China’s Wuhan City last month, the mother, sister and cousin of one of the workers, a Vietnamese-American visitor who transited in Wuhan, a Chinese man from Wuhan and his son who met him in Vietnam, and a hotel receptionist who served the father and son in Nha Trang.

Three of them have been discharged from hospitals: the Nha Trang hotel employee, the Chinese son, and one of the workers who returned from Wuhan.

The number of deaths from China's new coronavirus surged past 900 in mainland China on Monday after the hardest-hit province of Hubei reported 91 new fatalities./.

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