Israel to Use Experimental Virus Test That Can Give Results in 23 Minutes

A technician carries out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a lab at the Ziv Medical Center, in Tzfas. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Israel will likely be the first country in the world to try an experimental new test for the coronavirus that promises to deliver a diagnosis in 23 minutes, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday.

If the device proves effective, it will hopefully allow the government to “reopen the economy and the education system,” the minister wrote.

After months of work by Defense organizations, the Israel Institute for Biological Research will receive rapid test kits in the coming days which will provide a response in 23 minutes,” he said, referring to the country’s secretive research and development laboratory.

“Visby Medical’s kits received approval last week from the FDA. They will undergo a quick review at the Biological Institute and then go through an approval process at the Health Ministry.”

Visby Medical is an infectious disease diagnostics company based in San Jose, California.

“We can then distribute these immediate tests that will help us reopen the economy and the education system, ”he added.

The device has obtained temporary “emergency use” approval from the Food and Drug Administration and remains experimental.

American law gives the FDA the freedom to allow “unapproved medical products (…) to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening illnesses”.

According to Gantz, the new test will allow the government to “quickly and daily test medical teams, nursing homes, suspected epidemics in schools, workers in factories …”.

It was Science Minister Yizhar Shay (Blue and White) who put Visby in touch with the Defense Ministry, Gantz said.

“We will continue to do all we can to fight the pandemic and get back to our old routines,” he added.

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