Lack of advice undermines efforts; To stop the epidemic in poor countries. At a press conference on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
The agency is concerned that some countries are significantly reducing COVID-19 testing because the virus appears to be regressing in some parts of the world. According to the World Health Organisation, coronavirus cases and deaths have fallen sharply in recent weeks.
“Self-testing remains an important tool in our fight against COVID as part of an overall strategy,” Tedros said, adding that dropping testing undermines officials’ efforts to track the disease.
Some activists have long decried the lack of WHO self-test guidelines as a major obstacle in poor countries, noting that donors are reluctant to purchase them without any advice from the WHO.
While people in many rich countries have had easy access to rapid tests for months, self-testing kits are rarely available in poor countries, hampering efforts to slow the epidemic.
To this end, many health officials have repeatedly called on the World Health Organisation to issue recommendations for self-testing.
Tedros said the new self-test recommendations are expected to address testing inequality.
“We hope its new guidelines will also help increase access to testing, which is very costly for many low-income countries where these tools can play an important role in expanding testing,” he said.
In contrast to the massive efforts to procure and fairly distribute COVID-19 vaccines, there have been few; To expand mass testing in poor countries, even as WHO guidelines are released this week, some experts estimate that it may take up to 2023 for self-testing tools to become widely available in the developing world.