Good news from Slovakia: Scientists are developing their own tests

They plan to donate 100,000 tests to the state.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: AP/TASR)

Slovakia should soon be able to test more than the few hundred people daily that it has done so far.

Slovak scientists are developing their own coronavirus tests, the so-called PCR tests that are the most reliable way of testing people for the coronavirus.

"We want Slovakia to be self-sufficient in testing," said Robert Mistrík, a top scientist who is a member of the permanent crisis staff.

Mistrík told the April 7 press conference that there should be 100,000 new tests in two weeks. The production of this first batch was financed by the Eset software company and will be donated to Slovakia.

These PCR tests should ensure that if Slovakia is not able to purchase test kits from abroad, the state will have enough of them, explained Mistrík, who participated in developing the tests.

Coronavirus test specific for Slovakia

He called on other Slovak scientists and researchers to take part in the research.

PM Igor Matovič called it "an exemplary initiative that will help everyone in Slovakia".

The tests are tailor-made for the SARS-Cov-2 virus strains specifically found in Slovakia, which allow them to provide reliable diagnoses in the earlier stages of the infection.

The test is based on real-time PCR diagnoses used for the detection of the novel coronavirus, explained scientist Pavol Čekan, who is leading the research. This diagnosis was developed by the Christian Drosten laboratory at Charité University Hospital in Berlin alongside academic collaborators in Europe and Hong Kong. The test is currently recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Not an experiment

After the test kits are ready, in about two weeks if everything goes well, one more week will be needed for their certification. The Public Health Authority will then be free to use them based on their consideration.

Mistrík added that if the validation and certification go well and Slovakia is able to produce its own tests, the state would have more tests than possible to use. In this case, they would like to offer them abroad.

The tests have already been tried by the team of Slovak researchers from the Biomedicine Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, led by Boris Klempa. He said that this was "no experiment".

The tests should be able to detect infection within three to four days after the tested person has contracted it.

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