Scientists in Ghana have made groundbreaking progress in the country’s fight against the novel coronavirus. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) scientists have manufactured a revolutionary Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kit for Covid-19.
Local media reports that the University built the test kit in partnership with Incas Diagnostic, a medical diagnostic development and manufacturing social enterprise located in Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest city.
The test kit named ‘COVID-19IgG/IgM Rapid Test’ is said to give results between 15-20 minutes. Moulded in the form of a homemade kit used in a glucose or pregnancy testing, the COVID-19IgG/IgM Rapid Test’ requires only a finger-prick drop of blood.
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It then “detects two different types of antibodies produced by the body to fight off the COVID-19 infection about seven days after infection and also in those who have been exposed to the virus but not showing any symptoms (asymptomatic) or recovered from the infection,” the University said in a statement released by its spokesperson, Dr. Daniel Norris Bekoe.
So far Ghana has conducted over 110,000 tests, the second-highest on the continent. The Ghana Report states that the country’s tests per one million populations are a little over 3, 200. Ghana has so far recorded some 2,074 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus with 17 deaths and 212 recoveries.
Currently, Ghana uses Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for its COVID-19 test. The PCR detects parts of the viral genome very early in infection and takes at least 48 hours from testing to results; potentially delaying contact tracing and other efforts, scientists said.
But the latest innovation is said to detect asymptomatic cases, thus enabling decentralized testing to be done anywhere without requiring any equipment.
“These serological tests which use a finger-prick blood and in lateral flow format, similar to blood glucose test or home pregnancy test, detects two different types of antibodies produced by the body to fight off the Covid-19 infection about 7 days after infection and also in those who have been exposed to the virus but not showing any symptoms (asymptomatic) or recovered from the infection,” Dr. Bekoe said.
He added: “The device requires little technical training for those performing the test. The test which takes 15-20 minutes to perform, would enable those tested to know their results in a shorter time to enable decision making in real-time by health authorities.”
Ghana’s Food and Drug Authority is currently being engaged for “the necessary regulatory framework,” according to reports.
“This week we are expecting Noguchi, the FDA, and the experts to report on an RDT option to assist our surveillance. We are of the view that would help quicken an answer to the incidence rate in Ghana assuming that is the model that we want to add to our intervention,” Ghana’s Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah was quoted saying.
The innovation by the Ghanaian scientists is a massive improvement on the COVID-19 test kit created by two South African techpreneurs which provides results in just 65 minutes.
Enhanced and continuous testing is very important in the global fight against the coronavirus outbreak. It has been identified not only as a way to identify infected persons, but also explains how the virus develops with various jurisdictions.