02 December 2021
A new agreement reached by the Global Fund and several producers of COVID-19 antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag RDTs) has resulted in a significant drop in the price of these tests, potentially making the products more affordable for many governments of low- and middle-income countries.
Following a Global Fund tender, four suppliers of Ag RDTs have offered prices well below the current cost of rapid tests on the market. Ag RDTs from current suppliers are priced at US$2.50 to US$3.00 for low- and middle-income countries. Under the new agreement, the COVID-19 diagnostics produced by these additional quality-assured suppliers will be available at game-changing prices ranging from US$1.00 to US$2.00 per test or less. These developments have the potential to shift the diagnostics market and make testing more accessible.
“This is a monumental achievement enabled by the global health community to improve the access and availability of more affordable quality assured health products,” says Hui Yang, Head of Supply Operations at the Global Fund. “The price reduction on RDTs will generate significant savings that would allow countries to reinvest in strengthening of the national testing system in view of scaled operation and capacity building. This is critical to enable Global Fund-supported countries to close the gap in testing rates compared to higher-income countries.”
Manufactured in Canada, China, and South Korea, these Ag RDTs are approved by national regulatory bodies in Australia, Canada, and the United States respectively, and two are currently under review for WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL). All four meet the Global Fund partnership’s quality standards and will be eligible under our quality assurance policy.
The Global Fund is committed to playing an active, deliberate, and strategic role in shaping the global markets for health products to maximize access and improve health outcomes for people affected by COVID-19. We co-lead the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT-) Accelerator’s Diagnostics Pillar with FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, and together with partners we are working to ensure equitable access to lifesaving diagnostic tests. Part of these efforts involve robust market shaping strategies, leveraging our role as the primary financing mechanism for the procurement of COVID-19 diagnostic tests to improve quality, price, design, and sustainable supply.
Ag RDTs are a critical tool in the response to COVID-19, as they can be used outside of health facilities and laboratory settings, including in communities. As new treatments become available, they will also be necessary to implement ‘test and care’ strategies. These price reductions will enable a greater number of tests to be procured with the same funds, which will contribute to a greater scale of testing in countries. The Global Fund and the Diagnostics Pillar will continue to support country readiness and country uptake of Ag RDTs including supporting the validation and inclusion of additional brands of tests into national testing strategies, to bolster testing capacity and fight inequitable access to lifesaving diagnostics.
The new Ag RDT product offering and the new pricing will be updated on the Global Fund’s procurement platform, wambo.org, with additional guidance to be issued on our COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM) Diagnostics webpage in due course.