The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has successfully validated the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for COVID-19.
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, told the News Agency of Nigeria after the exercise that the success of the validation was important not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole.
“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 said.
He also recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.
“This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,” the DG said.
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.
Dr Rose Gidado, a scientist at NABDA and Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, said the exercise was historic.
She said the validated RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19 was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a Nigerian scientist at the University of Sheffield, UK.
“If we set up more testing centres, we can easily do 50,000 with automation,’’ the scientist said.
She added that the project was a partnership involving NABDA, NCDC, Ethiopia, NVRI Vom, NIMR, and the Ministries of Science and Technology, Health and Agriculture.