South Africa’s first Covid-19 antigen self-test is here

The Medical Diagnostech rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19. Picture: Supplied.

The Medical Diagnostech rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19. Picture: Supplied.

Published Apr 6, 2023


Johannesburg - South Africa now has its first Covid-19 antigen self-test with companion mobile phone application. HealthPulse TestNow was launched by Medical Diagnostech (Pty) Ltd and is the first Covid-19 app deployed in the country that supports self-testers with the administration and interpretation of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT).

The HealthPulse TestNow helps ensure the accurate use of RDTs through easy-to-follow instructions, process control timers and guided result interpretation. The solution integrates with public health reporting systems and ensures that self-testing data is reported, providing a more comprehensive understanding of disease prevalence.

Medical Diagnostech developed the rapid diagnostic test, while the application was developed by the Seattle-based company, Audere. The application provides detailed instructions on how to perform the self-test and assists in interpreting the results through image capture of the rapid test device.

Audere CEO Dr Dino Rech said self-testing was an important component of public health strategies worldwide, however, challenges existed with accurate and reliable test administration, interpretation, and collection of data.

Rech said HealthPulse TestNow was designed to improve an individual’s self-testing aptitude while connecting health departments with test data in an effort to maximise the impact of public health programmes.

“While the current state of Covid-19 testing varies across communities, this AI-powered digital solution lays the foundation for a much-needed self-testing tool that facilitates improved self-diagnosis and early access to care not just for Covid-19, but for a range of medical conditions. We are actively expanding HealthPulse TestNow's coverage to include new conditions across a broader set of geographies in Africa. Our mission is to empower early diagnosis and expedite access to care,” he said.

In mid-2020, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) rallied key local partners from the government, academia and industry to help reduce the country's reliance on international test kit supplies through the local development and manufacture of alternatives capable of producing results before patients leave the testing site.

With the guidance of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) and others, the SAMRC, along with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), a DSI entity, jointly ran a call for applications to identify suitable projects for funding. The development of the first Medical Diagnostech Covid-19 antigen test was co-funded through this mechanism.

Medical Diagnostech CEO Ashley Uys said: “South African health-care professionals and patient groups have been asking for new and innovative medical products and we believe that the MD Covid-19 Antigen Self-test is the catalyst to more innovative biomedical and diagnostic products.”

The MD Covid-19 Antigen Self-test will be available at all major pharmacies.

The Saturday Star