Expert casts doubt on home test kits for coronavirus - RTHK
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Expert casts doubt on home test kits for coronavirus

2020-03-12 HKT 13:26
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  • Two clinics in Hong Kong say the test kit for coronavirus was developed on the mainland and has an accuracy rate of over 90 percent.
    Two clinics in Hong Kong say the test kit for coronavirus was developed on the mainland and has an accuracy rate of over 90 percent.
Frances Sit reports
A top microbiologist has warned people against buying home testing kits for the new coronavirus, saying they are inaccurate and could lead to a misdiagnosis.

RTHK found that clinics in Tsim Sha Tsui and Central have been selling a quick test kit for Covid-19 for HK$680.

They claim a Covid-19 infection can be either confirmed or ruled out just by testing two drops of blood, with the result available in 15 minutes.

Another claim is that the test kits had been used on hundreds of patients on the mainland, with an accuracy rate of more than 90 percent.

In response to RTHK enquires, a doctor in charge of the clinics, Szeto King-ho, wrote in a letter that the kit was developed by a listed biotech company in Guangzhou.

Szeto said this company, along with more than ten mainland hospitals and other organisations, has applied to the Ministry of Science and Technology for approval of the kit under the guidance of top infectious disease expert on the mainland, Zhong Nanshan.

However, the head of the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Infection, Dr Ho Pak-leung, said there is no data anywhere in the world proving the effectiveness and accuracy of such tests which claim to show results for the coronavirus within a short period of time.

He said they could be used for research purposes, but he wouldn't recommend using them for an actual diagnosis.

Ho said it might take several weeks for patients to develop antibodies in their blood after being infected. He noted that universities, hospitals and health authorities are not using blood samples to check for the novel coronavirus, but instead test saliva or sputum.

He warned that the misuse of quick test kits could lead to an incorrect diagnosis, misleading patients into thinking they have a clean bill of health, or that they are infected with the virus which can be deadly.