Malaysia’s scientists invent COVID-19 rapid test kit

By Maryam Nasir

KUALA LUMPUR, 15 September 2020: A group of local scientists has successfully produced the world’s first rapid test kit, or ‘rapid test kit,’ which has the same accuracy in reading as the laboratory tests. 

A group of scientists led by Associate Prof. Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim, the first Malaysian to launch the sensory system of the United States Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) to measure and monitor a single-cell organism in space, created the breakthrough. 

The group of scientists was also identified as one of the 15 Community Award finalists organised by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-MIT Solve Challenge, the United States of America. 

MIT Solve Challenge is a marketing platform for creativity in social impacts from all over the world and resources for technology entrepreneurs to develop their potential. 

Wan Wardatul Amani clarified that compared to existing technology, the fast test kit she developed was able to detect COVID-19 by using saliva. 

The Penang-born also clarified that COVID-19 was identified by the invention she developed although the individual’s saliva did not contain many other viruses at a cheaper and faster pace. 

She said the project was initially an attempt to create a better reading system for glucose which could detect sugar content through saliva. 

“This innovation began when in 2014, I created sensors in partnership with the Malaysian Relief Agency (MRA) to detect harmful bacteria used during floods in Kuala Krai, Kelantan.”

 “Nevertheless, my group started thinking about ways to help tackle COVID-19 when the outbreak reached the entire world. From there, we’re trying to improve the technologies used for COVID-19 screening,” she said tonight when contacted by Berita Harian (BH).

Meanwhile, nanoSkunkWorkX Sdn Bhd’s chief executive, Iqbal Shamsul, said his party was looking for funds to market the unit, aside from targeting Malaysia as a hub of innovation. 

Besides that, he also hoped to have a meeting with the Health Director-General, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah to discuss the innovation findings. 

We are also waiting for input from the National Technology & Innovation Sandbox (NTIS), apart from filing an appeal denying our application to the Ministry of Higher Education. 

 “We hope Malaysia will become a hub for the manufacture of this device because it is the result of the local invention, apart from the sensor strip for this device it can be sold for less than RM4 if it is later widely marketed.” 

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin explained on his Facebook that his party is proud of the achievements of the local community of scientists. 

“Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani and her team are now leading a solution by developing a Hybrid Rapid Test Kit with nano-technology elements to quickly and reliably conduct COVID-19 screening tests anywhere. 

After this submission is released, Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani leads other teams to win this award. However, with a few days left until the polls close, they still need your votes to ensure its success,” he said. 

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