Nigerian scientists develop cheaper and faster Covid-19 test kits

Dr. Amara Allison, the Nigerian doctor who detected country's first confirmed Covid-19 case

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The new test is cheaper than different PCR assessments — the most common type of test — and can provide ends in lower than 40 minutes, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) stated.  

The diagnostic test package will price lower than $25 and samples may be analyzed utilizing a cell machine that may be operated by low-skilled personnel with minimal coaching, the company stated.  

“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,” Babatunde Salako, the director of NIMR, advised CNN.

“The machine we use is not the common PCR one. We bought the machine and adapted the kit that we developed to work with this machine. It is meant for diagnosis of other pathogens,” Salako stated. 

Although Salako added that the detection fee of the NIMR test package is “a bit lower than the PCR, but for the point of care, we believe it is good enough for now.” 

Testing challenges 

Nigeria presently imports PCR test kits from China and has confronted challenges in getting sufficient kits to test most of its inhabitants of 200 million. 

“We thought this one was very important as it will diversify the way testing is done. With this one, all the people in villages and remote areas can be tested by moving the machine to those villages,” Salako, who has headed the company since 2016 stated. 

So far, Nigeria has recorded greater than 59,000 circumstances of Covid-19 and greater than 1,000 deaths as of October 2, in line with figures from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Health authorities additionally report a declining variety of circumstances, with therapy facilities, often known as isolation facilities, being closed within the nation. 

Nigeria has Africa’s largest inhabitants and has examined solely about 500,000 individuals, according to figures from native well being authorities. The PCR test is probably the most widespread and correct diagnostic test

for figuring out whether or not somebody is presently contaminated with coronavirus. 

However, the assessments require specialized provides, costly devices, and the experience of educated lab technicians, which has led to shortages and a testing hole globally. 

While testing in Nigeria is free in state-owned laboratories, there are few such services and they’re solely in main cities. And generally, well being officers have needed to transfer samples to different states to verify outcomes due to a scarcity of kits. 

“It has always been my concern and passion to see that Nigeria doesn’t have to take samples outside to diagnose. We have scientists who are capable of this if they have the necessary support. That was what led to a visit to Senegal and China, We had collaboration to train our people in pathogen detection, even before Covid started, we went in August and September 2019 to train our scientists.” 

Salako stated the test kits will likely be mass-produced as soon as validated by the regulatory authorities — the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria. “We don’t count on the validation to take so lengthy.

“The solely limitation is that we now have to provide extra samples of those kits and purchase some new machines which are key to our work. Once that’s accomplished, we are able to mass produce with authorities help and serve markets in all of Africa.” 

In a separate announcement this week, the World Health Organization, working with a number of regional companions and donor companies, stated it had concluded plans to produce 120 million “reasonably priced” and high-quality Covid-19 fast assessments to low- and middle-income nations, together with in Africa.

The antigen fast diagnostic assessments, the company stated, would promote beneath $5.

Nigeria isn’t the primary nation to provide testing kits on the continent. In March, Senegal’s scientists worked with a UK-based laboratory to create a diagnostic test for coronavirus that may produce test outcomes inside 10 minutes.

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