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Global Partnership to Make Available 120 Million Affordable, Quality COVID-19 Rapid Tests for Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Rapid tests are a fast and accurate way to diagnose patients in a primary healthcare setting

Global partnership feeds healthy supply of rapid COVID-19 tests to low- and middle-income countries 

A set of global agreements reached in September 2020 paved the way for 120 million rapid COVID-19 tests to be distributed to low and middle-income countries.

The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, working with other organizations, concluded these agreements to enable the manufacture, distribution and rollout of these vital diagnostic tools.

At the time, there was a huge unmet need for fast diagnostic testing globally, especially in the low and middle-income bracket.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Global Fund, Unitaid, and World Health Organization (WHO) all worked on this project.

There was a particular focus on making tests available to countries without extensive laboratory facilities or trained health workers to implement molecular (polymerase chain reaction or PCR) tests.

Why is testing crucial in the fight against COVID-19?

Rapid tests are a fast and accurate way to diagnose patients in a primary healthcare setting, as this is where most people access services. 

Rapid tests are also cheaper than laboratory tests. With a fast initial diagnosis, track and trace teams in more remote and rural areas can start work sooner without waiting for laboratory test results. 

Quick results can prevent the virus from spreading in communities. Rural and remote healthcare settings especially need access to rapid testing, as accessing centralized laboratory services can take a long time.


The Global Fund made $50-million available to purchase 10 million tests per country.


FIND and WHO supported countries in distributing these tests.

Unitaid and the Africa CDC combined resources rollout tests to countries in Africa from October 2020. 

Featured Work - Procurement & Supply Management Featured Work - Quality Assurance & Policy

WHO product, policy and standards related to COVID-19

WHO’s health products policy and standards team supports countries to formulate evidence-based policies, and to ensure good practice and good governance throughout the supply chain.

Its work includes the Essential Diagnostic List (EDL), which aims to provide evidence-based guidance. The EDL is a reference for the development or update of national lists of essential in vitro diagnostic tests.

There are infographics and video clips available to explain the use of the EDL and the importance of diagnostics.

The health products policy and standards team also supports countries on access to health products for COVID-19

It works with the (ACT) Accelerator to enhance the development, manufacture, procurement and distribution of COVID-19 treatments for populations in low- and middle-income countries. This include medicines, vaccines, medical devices, and in vitro diagnostics. 

The WHO’s Disease Commodity Packages (DCPs) are a series of disease specific datasheets that list the critical commodities and the technical specifications for each commodity per disease. This overview includes links to DCPs for various diseases, including COVID-19, which may be downloaded.

Featured Work - Procurement & Supply Management Related Resources Resource Centre - Reports

Update on the rollout of COVID-19 tools: a report from the ACT-A Tracking & Monitoring Task Force

This report is an outcome of the first meeting of the ACT-Accelerator Tracking and Monitoring Taskforce, held on 9th December 2022. This new taskforce – co-chaired by India and the United States – continues key elements of the work of the Facilitation Council and its working groups. The report includes an outcome statement by the Co-Chairs and provides a briefing on the current status of the rollout of COVID-19 tools, including what actions are needed in the short-term to accelerate the work of ACT-A agencies and partners.  

More information on the taskforce can be found here.

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