Test-and-treat strategies will be essential for the roll out of oral therapeutics to treat COVID-19. This will depend on global access to reliable diagnostics, particularly rapid tests. However, availability of diagnostics remains very low in low- and middle-income countries. Nearly all low- and lower-middle-income countries remain far below the ACT-A target of 1 test per 1,000 people per day.
The average daily testing rate rose steeply for high-income countries in 2021, rising above the 1 per 1,000 target in July and peaking at more than 11 per 1,000 in January 2022. Testing rates for middle-income countries remained far lower, seldom reaching the 1 per 1,000 target. For low-income countries, the line from 2020 to present is essentially flat, with testing rates that have rarely risen to even 0.1 in 1,000.
This area of pandemic response has received far less global attention than vaccines. The ACT-A budget for diagnostics is just 1.5% funded.