Nigeria targets 5 million covid-19 tests by Dec. with locally made RNASwift test kit
London, July 10, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Nigerian government has officially launched the indigenous development and validation of RNA Swift, a test kit for the identification of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for Covid-19, to accelerate the capacity to test people and help manage the Corona virus pandemic in the country
Presenting the RNA Swift test kit to the public in Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said that the RNA Swift has amazing precision for the detection of SARS-COV-2 and would in the coming months be deployed to test five million Nigerians particularly farmers and those in the food production chain
“In the coming months, 5 million Nigerians including farmers will be tested with the RNA Swift kits from the first 10 million kits to be produced.The attributes of the RNASwift kits make it a game-changer in the design and production of diagnostic kits for infectious diseases in the face of an epidemic or a pandemic”
The Minister described the development of the testing kit as “Nigeria’s gift and contribution to help Africa and the World fight the Covid-19 pandemic” adding that by encouraging Nigerian scientists and innovators, Nigeria has the capacity to find solutions to global challenges.
Dr. Onu confirmed the support of the African Development Bank.
“I want to confirm to you that the RNA Swift product team is in consultation with the African Development Bank for the funding of an African-wide testing programme for COVID-19 and the establishment for RNA Swift production in Nigeria” he said.
According to him, the development of the test kit, was as a result of careful planning and strategic investments of the Ministry’s departments and Agencies.
He commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Finance, The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Sheffield University, Scientists and the Organized Private Sector for their collaborative efforts in the development of the testing kits.
Meanwhile,the Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Alex Akpa says the new RNASwift Extraction kit produced in Nigeria will not only help expand the nation’s testing capacity but reduce test cost by over 500 per cent.
He said the RNASwift test kit would not only revolutionalise Africa’s PCR-Based COVID-19 testing but will also expand the capacity by 50 times at least.
The RNASwift, Akpa said, would equally reduce cost by over 500 per cent as compared to the conventional kit in use in the country.
Prof. Akpa added that the technical support team of the University of Sheffield, led by Dr. Alison Nwokeoji, also made the project successful.
“This meets the demands of the Test Africa Initiative. The kits will be produced in Nigeria, which is great news considering that it will enable preference to be given to the testing needs of Africa.