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S. Korea shoots for faster COVID-19 test kit by March

It 12:00 January 20, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's science ministry said Wednesday that it seeks to commercialize a COVID-19 test kit by March that provides results within three minutes to help better combat the pandemic.

The Ministry of Science and ICT said the new semiconductor-based kit has a low likelihood of false negatives for the virus, with its sensitivity, or ability to identify true positives, at over 95 percent. It also tests saliva for results, unlike existing testing methods that use swabs.

A health care worker takes a sample from a citizen to test for the coronavirus at a testing clinic in central Seoul on Jan. 19, 2021. (Yonhap)

The move comes as South Korea is still in the third wave of the pandemic, which has shown signs of letup recently.

The ministry said it will support the development of local COVID-19 treatment candidates, such as Nafamostat and Camostat, by cooperating with the Ministry of Health and Welfare. It aims to provide treatments for patient use in the first half of this year.

The ministry added that it will continue support toward developing a homegrown vaccine against the novel coronavirus, although the country has secured supplies from foreign companies, such as U.S. biotech company Moderna Inc.

South Korea's COVID-19 cases have recently showed signs of slowing down, with new daily infections at 404 on Wednesday, compared to over 1,000 cases late last month.


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