These are test kits made in South Korea, not a 'cure' for COVID-19

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Multiple posts shared thousands of times on Facebook claim that the United States has found a cure for the novel coronavirus. This is false; the pictures being shared are of rapid test kits made in South Korea, while the hunt for a cure continues.

One of the posts, first published on Facebook on March 27, 2020 and since shared more than 9,000 times (archived here), claims that a US scientist has finally found a vaccine to cure coronavirus. It adds that “the president of the United States of America will officially make the announcement about the vaccine to cure the virus on Sunday. Roche medical company will launch the vaccine on Sunday”.

A screenshot taken on April 30, 2020, showing the misleading post

The same claim has been shared here and here.

The image shows a coronavirus rapid test kit

A reverse image search of the picture shared with the post finds that it depicts Korean-made COVID-19 test kits and not vaccines.

The earliest version of the picture that AFP found was posted on Twitter by Florian Witulski, a Bangkok-based German journalist and photographer. According to his March 21 tweet, “Korea finished developing the 10 minute Covid-19 diagnostic kit and is now ramping up production”. This report by Korean business newspaper Pulse News corroborates Witulski’s tweet. 

We traced the test kits to the South Korean company producing them, Sugentech. According to the company’s website, “SGTi-flex COVID-19 IgM/IgG is a gold nanoparticle-based immunochromatographic test kit for qualitative determination of COVID-19’s IgM and IgG antibodies in human whole blood (finger prick or venous), serum or plasma”.

No cure or vaccine for COVID-19 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no known cure or vaccine for the novel coronavirus disease. “To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicines against COVID-19,” it says in its public advisory.

The agency adds that “possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are currently under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials”.

On April 28, the WHO also gave an update on the state of vaccine prioritisation for COVID-19, stating clearly that any possible vaccine is still in the works.