CAPE TOWN – Scientists in Nigeria have developed cheaper and faster Covid-19 test kits as part of the strategy to speed-up the treatment and containment of the Coronavirus disease across the country.
Most countries in Africa have tested less than one percent of their populations. In contrast, the US, Russia and every country in Europe which had tested 10 percent to 20 percent of their populations by June 2020.
According to the country’s health authorities, the new test is cheaper than other Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and can give results in less than 40 minutes. The diagnostic test kit will cost less than $25 (about R400) and samples can be analyzed using a mobile machine that can be operated by low-skilled personnel with minimal training.
In an interview with CNN, the Director of NIMR, Babatunde Salako said: “We saw the need for more testing outfits, especially one that can give results in a short time because hospitals were refusing to treat patients without Covid-19 results. The machine we use is not a common PCR one. We bought the machine and adapted the kit that we developed to work with this machine. It is meant for the diagnosis of other pathogens.”
The country currently imports PCR test kits from China and has faced challenges in getting enough kits to test most of its population of 200 million.
Earlier this year, Uganda and Senegal developed an inexpensive Covid-19 test kit that can deliver results quickly, offering hope for a “homegrown solution” to sub-Saharan Africa’s testing needs.
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