SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDT) are being used globally to test suspect COVID-19 cases in contexts where PCR diagnostic may not be available, often at subnational level.
To support the response to COVID-19 and appropriate use of diagnostics in particular, WHO developed interim guidance and technical briefs to assist policy-makers and laboratories on testing for the virus that causes COVID-19, including using SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs. In addition, WHO partnered with global health stakeholders through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to develop the SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDT implementation guide, providing an overview of the major elements that must be considered before, during and after the implementation of Ag-RDTs for SARS-CoV-2,.
Ag-RDTs contribute to increasing access to testing, as they can be utilized at point of care and provide access to results quickly. It is however critical than those performing testing be adequately trained.
WHO released in November 2020 a training package on SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs developed in collaboration with Act-Accelerator partner FIND. The aim was to provide standardized training materials for quality training of trainers and users of Ag-RDTs. This package available on the WHO Health Security and Learning Platform has been accessed more than 5000 times from over 150 countries or territories since its launch.
Building on this collaboration and to enhance access to training globally, WHO and FIND co-developed a self-learning online course ‘SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid diagnostic testing’ which aims to provide Ag-RDT users with a deeper understanding of the theoretical and practical components of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDT testing. More specifically, the course is designed for the personnel involved in SARS-CoV-2 testing, including healthcare workers, laboratory workers and public health officers.
While this course doesn’t replace in person training, it includes critical aspects of testing such as specimen collection, performing the test, interpreting results and taking appropriate actions, but also biosafety considerations, insuring quality is monitored and quality results produced and managing supplies appropriately. These topics are covered in ten modules, including recorded presentations and short videos.
The course launches in English on Monday 12th July 2021 and is freely available to all interested via the OpenWHO platform. It is hoped that this course will contribute to increasing quality testing globally, with translations into other languages in the coming months.