Nigeria has developed a COVID-19 test kit that can give results in less than 40 minutes, officials said at a bi-weekly briefing in the capital, Abuja. The country’s Minister of State for Health Olurunimbe Mamora said the test kit is faster and 10 times cheaper than Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing method currently in use in the country. He added that the test kit can be used by low skilled persons.
The test kit, known as SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay, was developed by Nigeria’s Institute of Medical Research. Currently, Nigeria and many countries in Africa import COVID-19 test kits from China, America and Europe. Also, the reagents for testing of COVID-19 using the PCR method are imported.
Nigeria’s test kit is yet to be approved by regulatory agencies but according to the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, the test kits will be distributed soon to communities after the validation process.
Mustapha said the test kit was Nigeria’s contribution to the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic through scientific research.
Nigeria has so far tested just over 509,555 people out of its population of around 200 million. It has recorded more than 58,000 coronavirus cases with over 1,000 deaths. The number of daily confirmed infections is declining.
In April, Nigeria set a target to test within three months 2 million people. However, Nigeria failed to meet its target. According to Ikemesit Effiong, a forensic expert, the failure to test more people was due to logistical challenges.
“The main challenge Nigeria has had with testing has been its inability to test as many people as possible. Inability to secure test kits in a world where they are still in high demand means that cheaper, alternative, mass-produced options are being sought all over the world, he told PREMIUM TIMES.
In May, scientists in Senegal’s Institut Pasteur de Dakar developed a Covid-19 testing kit that costs $1 and can deliver results in about 10 minutes. Similarly, scientists at Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology developed a rapid diagnostic test kit for COVID-19 testing.
Africa has been praised for responding better to the coronavirus pandemic than richer countries. The continent has recorded a little over 1.4 million cases and just over 34,000 deaths, defying horror predictions.
“Overall, I really commend the response in African countries. We are making progress thanks to the concerted efforts of governments, communities, and partners,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa region director, said.
“Although cases are being missed, this does not affect the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the region. We are not seeing evidence of excess mortality due to COVID-19 or missing deaths.”
According to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa, during the past one week, recorded an 82% recovery rate adding that over the past several weeks, the recovery rate has been steady.
“That is a good news for the continent,” he said.