In Latvia, laboratories currently use COVID-19 tests, for which the laboratory testing process takes from 3 to 6 hours. It is not planned to abandon these tests and they will be used in the future, however, at present it is possible to use tests in Latvia, where the testing process will take only 45 minutes.
The technology used is the same, but the process itself is shortened, where the staff of the laboratory has to be involved to a much lesser extent – the testing of the analysis sample is performed automatically. At the same time, these tests are just as reliable and there is no reason to doubt the results obtained. According to this method, tests are already being carried out in several countries, including Estonia. In addition, these types of tests are also used for other diseases, such as the rapid detection of tuberculosis or influenza.
In order to be able to do this in Latvia as well, a government decision was needed. In order for these tests to be used on the European market, there must be a CE mark by which the manufacturer certifies that the device complies with all regulatory requirements, but given that the process is less rapid, the specific mark for these tests does not yet exist. It takes another week or two to get it, but several countries are already using them and Latvia wants to follow this path. In the US, the required label has been awarded by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to certify the quality of the tests. Consequently, the government decided that these tests could already be used in Latvia while the process of obtaining the specific label was still ongoing. Accordingly, a special permit will be issued temporarily by the State Agency of Medicines.
The use of these tests in Latvia is coordinated by the National Reference Laboratory of Riga East Clinical University Hospital (RAKUS), preparing the procurement procedure. It is planned that the tests could be delivered in Latvia next week. It should be noted that there is a great demand for these tests in the world, so the manufacturer has set some kind of quotas – currently it is forecasted that Latvia will be able to receive 2000 tests per month from the manufacturer’s factory in Sweden (other manufacturers do not currently offer such tests at reasonable prices). The necessary equipment to perform these tests is the RAKUS Laboratory Service, which will also perform these analyzes.
Due to the limited number of rapid tests, COVID-19 analyzes in an accelerated process will be provided in certain situations, such as when a patient in need of emergency surgery is admitted to hospital, or in certain indications such as heart attack or stroke, dialysis patient, and others. .
Hospitals will be able to take all the necessary precautions more effectively as soon as they know the test results. Currently, work is being done on the development of specific criteria and indications, in which cases the analyzes would be performed expeditiously. It is important to assess the need for these tests in the country according to a uniform principle, given that the number of these tests will be limited – on average, about 70 rapid COVID-19 tests can be performed per day. At the same time, the global availability of these tests is expected to increase over time.
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