Germany was quick to see the threat while South Korea took an aggressive approach
Countries have approached coronavirus testing in different ways, and in some places there was far earlier recognition than in the UK of the need to develop tests and kits and to have sufficient numbers stockpiled. Here is how some countries got ahead of the curve.
With its experience of Sars at the start of the century and as the apparent source of origin of Covid-19, it is perhaps unsurprising that China is ahead of others on testing. By the end of March it had conducted well over 320,000 tests.
One of the earliest tests was developed in mainland China by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and details of it were posted on the World Health Organization website on 24 January, just after the Wuhan lockdown was announced.
A Hong Kong team that helped identify Sars worked to develop its own test. “Because we have gone through all these events in the past, we know how important it is to have a working diagnostic test,” said Leo Poon, who led the team. “That’s why we basically tried to get the work done as soon as possible.”
As one of the world’s major chemicals producers, China was able to quickly accelerate production of kits.
Lacking a gene sequence for the new coronavirus, Landt and his company designed their first test kit based on Sars and other known coronaviruses. The protocol was published by the WHO on 17 January, before the Chinese test. The British government passed on this test. By the end of February Landt had produced 4m kits and was making another 1.5m a week.
As well as having an effective test in mass production, Germany signed up politically to mass testing from the beginning, resulting in it being able to do 12,000 tests daily.