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NIMR inaugurates new test kit to contain COVID-19 second wave

By Stanley Akpunonu
17 December 2020   |   3:01 am
As the COVID-19 second wave hits the country, the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has developed and launched a test kit capable of running hundreds of tests in an hour.

COVID-19 test kits

As the COVID-19 second wave hits the country, the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has developed and launched a test kit capable of running hundreds of tests in an hour.

According to the Institute, the kit, SARSCOV2 Detection Assay (SCODA) would address the low COVID-19 testing across the nation.

Speaking at NIMR 2020 retreat, Molecular Virologist, at the institute, Joseph Ojonugwa Shaibu said the new innovation; SCODA is a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kit for detecting COVID-19.

He said the innovation was because of the high cost of testing of most of the kits used as a result of the high foreign exchange rate.

Shaibu said: “We have to come up with the fact that we have an in-country assay that can also match what is obtained globally. One of its advantages is that it produces the result in 57 minutes, unlike others.

“None of the kits is that fast and what it means is that in space of 57 minutes you can have results based on the capacity of your machine. If your machine can do 384 test that means in 57minutes you can have 384 test results.”

The virologist explained that the kit is very sensitive, accurate, and can even beat some assays across the world.

He added that the kit is very cheap, 80per cent cheaper than what is obtainable now. “The cost of bringing those kits to Nigeria alone is very expensive. Having this one in-country assay, you can do a test as cheap as N5000 and N3000.”
Shaibu disclosed that the kit has been validated across three laboratories and would be open to the public soonest.
The expert called on the government to enact policies because, for innovations like this, it is the good government policy that drives it.

“We are looking for partners to make it go round the country. Currently in Nigeria, we have 100 labs that have real-time PCR machines that have the capacity to run the tests. Cost of the kit is what is hindering testing but with this now they do not need to import any kits again. They can easily buy from us or our partners and have many tests conducted in a few hours,” he noted.

Also, the Director-General NIMR, Prof Babatunde Salako, said as the foremost research institute, the best they could be to design and develop another test kit that will work with the conventional PCR that all laboratories have
He explained that SCODA is a COVID-19 test kit that would work with the PCR machine and all they had to do was to produce and give the laboratories to use.

Salako continued: “By self-assessment, we have done very well this year and we are looking forward to another productive year because we purchasing the next-generation sequencer which will allow us to be able to determine the architecture of many organisms including human beings. We also want to provide an opportunity for personalised medicine. These are the areas we are going to face in the next year and we are also receiving support from the MTN foundation.”