ACT-A Dx Knowledge Hub

The Diagnostic Journey

Research & Development

Diagnostics is a fundamental component of patient care as it enables robust detection of diseases to support with patient management. However, despite tremendous progress in global health, millions of people still lack the right diagnostics technologies and tools to combat health challenges. As the first phase of the diagnostic journey, research and development (R&D) helps to support this challenge by translating an idea or concept into diagnostic technologies and tools which are used to identify conditions and addresses health needs.


Reliable, affordable diagnostics have been identified as essential tools necessary in the global response to combat COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, when the pandemic hit, there were no COVID-19 tests and tools available. Additionally, years of underinvestment in diagnostics and the lack of coordination in R&D efforts resulted in both high and low income countries without the diagnostic technologies and tools necessary to contain and effectively respond to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In the absence of COVID-19 technologies and tools, countries are unable to respond. In the  face of the growing COVID-19 crisis, monetary and non-monetary resources were mobilized through the ACT-A  platform on a scale and timeline that has never been seen before. With these resources, the ACT-A Diagnostics Pillar through the support of its working group partners worked to accelerate the development of quality assured diagnostic technologies and tools for COVID-19.

With the support of partners, following key activities were prioritized to support R&D efforts:

  • Development of fit-for-purpose affordable and accessible COVID-19 products including molecular tests, antigen RDTs (professional use tests and self-tests) to meet demand needs in low and middle income settings
  • Investing in molecular point of care test and technologies that can detect multiple respiratory pathogens specifically including COVID-19 with a single sample
  • In country evaluation studies on usability and clinical performance of COVID-19 tests
  • Creating data solutions to accompany test roll-out
  • Maintain database of pipeline/market products​

Making an impact 

R&D investments in COVID-19 technologies and tools resulted in COVID-19  tests being one of the first tools deployed as part of the global COVID-19 response. The rapid development and rollout of these tests enabled countries to understand transmission dynamics, create surveillance programmes and implement timely medical (i.e., vaccines, oxygen, therapeutics) and non-medical countermeasures to safeguard their people and communities. Notable R&D achievements have been highlighted below. To learn more about the R&D achievements and work, please refer to the key learnings and resource section below.

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for first automated PCR tests
 to become available

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for first rapid tests to be approved for emergency use

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commercialized COVID-19
tests independently evaluated

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commercially available
COVID-19 tests


molecular point of care multi pathogen
platforms being assessed

partnerships with digital
health developers

Key Learnings & Featured Work

Reflections on R&D

Leveraging the ACT-Accelerator experience, there are key lessons to take forward to sustain progress in expanding the use of diagnostic tools and technologies for COVID-19 as well as other diseases of endemic and pandemic potential.

Additional R&D Resources