Netherlands orders 9.2 million fast coronavirus tests from US company

Fast coronavirus tests. Photo:
Fast coronavirus tests. Photo:

The Dutch government has ordered an extra eight million fast tests for coronavirus from a US-based company as it tries to cut waiting times for results.

The antigen tests, produced by American company BD, can detect the virus in 15 minutes and were approved by the health ministry for use two weeks ago. They will be used in addition to the PCR tests carried out by local health boards.

The first batch of 1.2 million is due to be delivered later this month. A spokesman for BD told Trouw newspaper that the total order of 9.2 million units was the first deal to be concluded with a European government.

It is one of a number of rapid tests to be developed in recent months and was given emergency clearance by the US Food and Drug Administration in August.

Dutch research institute TNO recently announced it had developed a fast test with a 99% accuracy rate, the same level as the PCR process. The so-called LAMP test works at a molecular level and gives a result in 45 minutes to an hour.

Breathomix, based in Leiden, developed a breathalyser test that can rule out the virus in around 75% of cases within 45 minutes. The device has been tested on 1,800 people in Amsterdam.

The network of local health boards (GGDs) is currently able to carry out 50,000 tests a day and is working to raise the limit to 90,000 by the end of the month. It said at the weekend that nobody would have to wait more than 24 hours to take a test.

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