Indonesian Founder Creates Affordable Rapid Self-test Kits for Covid-19

Indonesian Founder Creates Affordable Rapid Self-test Kits for Covid-19
Supplied | Covid-19 Self Test Kit

Indonesian founder Santo Purnama has successfully developed a rapid self-test kit for Covid-19 in just 4 months. This allows individuals to do self-tests to detect Covid-19 infections in their homes which takes up to 10 minutes. Santo developed the Covid-19 test kits through his Singapore-based company, Sensing Self, in its official statement to Good News from Southeast Asia.

With 25 years of individual contributions in the field of technology, bioscience, and human growth & development, working across the globe in multiple countries, Santo’s company officially manufactured and distributed Sensing Self rapid test kit since February. 

It has obtained licenses from three important markets in the world, namely Europe (with CE certification), India (approved by the National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research), and the United States.

Sensing Self Test Kits Covid-19. Image: Supplied
Sensing Self Test Kits Covid-19. Image: Supplied


For the United States market, the FDA has given approval for Sensing Self test kits, provided that its use must be carried out at formal medical institutions. India, with thousands of Covid-19 positive cases currently, has purchased 3 million units of Sensing Self test kits.

As an Indonesian, Santo is ready to offer this self-test kit to help the Indonesian government fight the Covid-19 outbreak. It has been four weeks since the application of approval from the Indonesian Government and it is still processing. 


Santo said, “The war against Covid-19 is a war against time. We must reduce the growth rate of this pandemic by carrying out tests as widely as possible. That said, we hope that the Indonesian government could authorize our initiative to bring these independent test kits to Indonesia.”

In comparison, European pharmaceutical agencies only needed 2-3 weeks to grant approval. India only spent a week to carry out trials, validations, and authorize final approvals. The Indian Government immediately ordered millions of test kits two days after the final approvals. Santo shares that they are selling the test kits at cost, as this is a social mission to help save more lives. 

“We always maintain the quality of each unit, as well as its accuracy, because we understand that this is a medical tool highly related to one’s health. Early detection of the Covid-19 virus can make a difference between life and death," Santo added.

Sensing Self test kits can provide fast and accurate detection results because it uses enzyme analysis. With a more affordable price tag at around Rp160,000 (USD 10), the test results can come out faster than other test kits.

Sensing Self Test Kits Covid-19. Image: Supplied
Sensing Self Test Kits Covid-19. Image: Supplied


Another alternative to testing Covid-19 is the nostril swab. However, this method costs Rp1.2 million (USD75) per test, and the process takes up to 1 hour, making it less efficient.

Currently, Santo’s team is developing another solution to fight this pandemic, which is a cost effective nucleic acid test (NAT) for Covid-19 zero-day detection. This test can detect Covid-19 infection on the patient’s first day of exposure with up to 99% accuracy. Sensing Self team plans to launch this product soon.

Santo Purnama and Shripal Gandhi are co-founders of Sensing Self. Purnama has a background in computer science and technology from Purdue University and Stanford University, while Gandhi is the best graduate majoring in chemical engineering and biosciences from the University of Mumbai and the University of California.


Indah Gilang Pusparani

Indah is a researcher at Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Kota Cirebon (Regional Development Planning and Research Agency of Cirebon Municipality). She covers More international relations, tourism, and startups in Southeast Asia region and beyond. Indah graduated from MSc Development Administration and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom in 2015. She finished bachelor degree from International Relations from University of Indonesia in 2014, with two exchange programs in Political Science at National University of Singapore and New Media in Journalism at Ball State University, USA. She was awarded Diplomacy Award at Harvard World Model United Nations and named as Indonesian Gifted Researcher by Australian National University. She is Researcher at Regional Planning Board in Cirebon, West Java. She previously worked as Editor in Bening Communication, the Commonwealth Parliament Association UK, and diplomacy consulting firm Best Delegate LLC in USA. Less
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