Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has successfully validated the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus.
The validation took place on Thursday in the laboratory of the National Biotechnology Development Agency in Abuja.
The Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa after the exercise said;
The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa.
The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction, and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place.
Akpa also noted that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.
The DG stated;
This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind.
He disclosed that the project was a Pan-African project whose partners include Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, among others with funding to come from the African Development Bank.
Similarly, Dr Rose Gidado, a scientist at NABDA and Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, said the exercise is historic
She noted that the validated RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19 was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a Nigerian scientist at the University of Sheffield, UK.
Gidado also disclosed that the new test kit could test more than 20,000 people per day and about 50,000 kits can be produced using automation.
She added that other partners in the initiative are NVRI Vom, NIMR, and the Ministries of Science and Technology, Health and Agriculture.