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Saliva Testing Tech Rolled Out to Combat Covid-19 in Indonesia

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies all over the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic’s challenges. The biotech industry was instrumental in developing and shipping COVID-19 vaccines in record time. Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) leaders have stated that biotech is playing a role in the pandemic.

Many biotechnology companies shifted their focus to infectious disease research during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 191 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development as of January 5, 2021, and over 800 clinical trials for various drugs and vaccines, many of which are being developed by companies with no prior experience in the infectious disease sector.

As biotech companies from other countries try their hardest to develop a ‘game changing’ vaccine, two biotech start-up companies from Indonesia have recently developed saliva-based COVID-19 (PCR test kits) that can detect COVID-19 from saliva samples. These kits will function as alternatives to nasal and throat swab tests.

As per a press release distributed by the company, the test kit invention from one of the biotech companies has an accuracy of ‘up to 97%’. Multiple labs and hospital partners have validated the kit’s performance, and the results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Since receiving a swab test can be uncomfortable and even painful for some people, the saliva-based test kit provides a convenient option that is suitable for both children and seniors. The test kit also does not require extraction, is inexpensive, and can be self-administered.

Meanwhile, the second biotech firm collaborated with a state-owned pharmaceutical company to launch its own saliva product, a test in which subjects gargle a test solution. The company’s previous product, a nasal swab test, is now complemented by the latest invention. Consequently, this saliva test invention can detect ten COVID-19 mutation variants, including the kappa and delta variants, which are said to be more infectious than others. According to a press release from the start-up, the new test kit has an accuracy of ‘up to 95%’. Its development process involved more than 400 samples from COVID-19 patients, including outpatients and inpatients, as well as validation research over the course of seven months.

Both biotech start-ups hope that the new test kits will strengthen Indonesia’s COVID-19 tracing capabilities. Subjects do not need to visit medical facilities to produce samples because the administration of both test devices does not require medical training, allowing them to avoid crowded areas and reduce the risk of viral transmission.

Indonesia is currently struggling with surging cases of COVID-19 infections. As of now, there have been 2.3 million confirmed cases, with 61,140 deaths reported. Medical facilities across Java are being overwhelmed by an influx of new patients, and people who do not have severe symptoms are being turned away from hospitals because they are all overcrowded. This has led to a shortage of medical supplies, especially oxygen cylinders.

Nevertheless, with the help of these systems, it could possibly ease the covid-19 treatment in Indonesia. Furthermore, Indonesia has also prepared backup medical facilities and plans to start importing oxygen tanks as the country battles a fresh wave of coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed its medical system.

Today, leaders around the world are looking to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies for possible solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, which include diagnostic assays and therapeutics, as well as prophylactic vaccines and advanced test kits.

While digital technologies provide tools to aid in pandemic response, they are not a panacea. The emerging consensus is that they play an important role in a comprehensive response to outbreaks and pandemics, supplementing traditional public-health measures and thus contributing to the reduction of COVID-19’s human and economic impact.

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