A South Korean pharmaceutical firm iONEBIO claims that its detection kit can test the novel COVID-19 coronavirus in about 20 minutes, even faster than the previous standard of up to six hours. Photo courtesy of iONEBIO

All of a sudden, South Korea has become a powerhouse in manufacturing diagnostic kits for the novel COVID-19 coronavirus as the country exports millions of kits a month.

And a local pharmaceutical firm called iONEBIO recently said that it plans to export kits of testing the virus in about 20 minutes, far faster than the previous norm of up to six hours.

The Armed Forces Medical Command developed the patented technology, which was transferred to iONEBIO. The firm further worked on the products named iLAMP Novel-CoV19 Detection KIT.

Early this month, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety gave the green light to export the diagnostic kits. We also applied for the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” an iONEBIO official told UPI News Korea by telephone.

We have sent samples to many countries, including the United States. Consultations on exports are currently underway.”

Unlike the previous products, iONEBIO said that the kits will enable massive tests to help many countries, which have struggled to deal with the rising test demand.

South Korea has been able to manufacture enough diagnostic reagents as several companies roll out them beginning this January.

The country has tested more than 580,000 people since this January, but the number of daily tests plunged of late as the infection cases dipped to about 10 per day from a peak of around 1,000 in early March.

South Korea has the capacity to make millions of kits a week, and now most of them are presently shipped to other nations.


UPI News Korea has provided this article. _ ED.