TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iranian scientists succeeded in designing and producing the new generation of coronavirus test kit which is able to simultaneously detect the genome and mutation, for the first time in West Asia. With the outbreak of the pandemic, Iran surged its production to meet the country’s need for self-protective equipment along with medical and pharmaceutical items to fight against the virus.
Now, the country is one of the top five manufacturers of coronavirus antigen-based rapid detection kits in the world; as homegrown antibody rapid test, which can detect coronavirus in 15 to 20 minutes, was unveiled in Tehran on November 17, 2020.
The new generation of this kit has already been designed and produced domestically, IRNA reported on Friday.
Previously produced kits were able to detect two genes of the virus, but the newly designed kit identifies three genomes or virus structures; Therefore, this one is more sensitive than the existing kits, Hamzeh Choobin, a Ph.D. in Medical Virology said.
Stating that the sensitivity of this kit is twice that of its foreign counterpart, he said that this kit is the first kit that, in addition to detecting three genes of the virus in a sample, is also able to detect the type of the mutant.
Detection of the type of mutation might not be very important clinically, but it can be helpful in prevention and national controlling programs, he noted, adding, currently the testing time of foreign kits available in the market is one hour and 45 minutes. But this kit takes an hour and 10 minutes.
Similar foreign kits cost around 7 to 13 euros, but we offer this kit to domestic laboratories for less than 2 euros, he highlighted.
Iran is one of the few countries that has achieved this technology in the world, and the leading country in West Asia, he announced.
So far, 100,000 tests have been produced and entered the market, we can produce one million tests per month, Choobin emphasized.
Although the export of items needed to deal with the coronavirus is prohibited in the country, if the production meets the country’s needs, we will be able to export, he concluded.
Sepideh Golbaz, an official with the Food and Drug Administration said in April that imports of coronavirus detection kits have dropped to zero as some 24 knowledge-based companies are producing kits to meet the domestic needs.
There are currently over 5 companies in the field of molecular detection kits, 9 companies in the field of rapid antigen test kits, and 10 companies in the field of RNA kits, she stated.
Not only has it fully met the country’s needs, but it has also the capacity to be exported, she noted, adding, serology kits are currently being exported.
Sourena Sattari, vice president for science and technology, told the Tehran Times in September 2020 that some of the knowledge-based companies reached a production capacity of more than 200-300 thousand diagnostic kits per day, which surpassed the country’s need for diagnostic kits, and there is a great export potential.
Pointing out that multiplying the production of COVID-19 equipment led to significant measures that led to foreign currency saving for the country, he said “it also helped us cope with problems and not to run out of equipment because no matter how much money we gave, no country had the equipment to sell.”
He also announced that two types of diagnostic kits are now mass-produced by knowledge-based companies, first one is the RT-PCR tests, 8 million of which are being produced per month; while the other is serology-based tests that a total of 400,000 are being manufactured monthly and is expected to reach up to 2 million.
At present, 40 advanced ventilators are manufactured daily in the medical equipment sector, he explained.
Knowledge-based companies can produce any medicine effective in countering coronavirus or approved by the scientific committee within a week to 10 days, he noted.
Mehdi Kashmiri, director for technology and planning at the science ministry, said in July that about 450 knowledge-based companies were active in the country for manufacturing protective equipment and treatment products to fight the coronavirus.
Production of more than one million face masks per day, production of more than 1.5 liters of disinfectants per day, diagnostic kits, non-contact thermometers, protective clothing, ventilator are among the produces manufactured by these companies, he added.
Iranian-made innovative products in the field of diagnosis, screening, and fighting coronavirus were also unveiled to combat the disease, namely, ozone generator, nanotechnology face shields, disinfection gate, and molecular COVID-19 diagnostic kits.