COVID-19: Nigeria Develops Locally-Made Test Kit
Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of state for health unveiled the molecular test kit developed by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), to improve the testing capacity for COVID-19, at the bi-weekly Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19
In his statement, he said, ‘The Nigeria Institute of Medical Research has developed a molecular test for COVID-19 that can give results in less than 40 minutes.
The newly developed molecular test kit, by the name SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA), is said to be capable of producing results in less than 40 minutes and also to be ten times cheaper than PCR.
In addition, it can be used for point of care detection and surveillance, and it’s said to be more faster compared to the Reverse Transcription- Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) which is currently in use in the country and takes several hours to produce results.
He proceeded by saying, ‘It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA) which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training.’
A World Health Organisation Reports noted that Nigeria is still struggling to increase the COVID-19 testing as a result of lack of adequate equipment and reagents used in carrying out the PCR test. However, fast-growing infections are key to controlling the pandemic.
Nigeria, like many other African countries, had been importing kits, and could not device a locally made one.
Since the commencement of the COVID-19 test, the Nigerian government, on April 28, announced its target of testing at least two million people within three months. But this target was not in any was close to being achieved, as Nigeria could only cover 30 per cent of the two million.
According to a forensic expert, who said, ‘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.’
Records from NCDC have shown a significant reduction in the number of daily infections across Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but Health Authorities, still warn against the surge of new wave of the virus if Nigerians continue to breach COVID-19 rules.