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Friday, 10 July 2020

Nigeria Develops, Unveils Domestic COVID-19 Diagnostic Kit 'RNASwift'

An indigenous rapid testing kit has been developed by Nigerian scientists for the identification of SARS-Cov-2, which causes COVID-19. The Federal Government of Nigeria launched the diagnostic kit, RNASwift, for the identification of coronavirus’ causal agent on Thursday, June 9, 2020.

It holds huge potentials for the country’s plan at scaling up testing for COVID-19, the acting Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof Alex Akpa, whose agency produced the kit.

“The diagnostic kit is a product of cutting-edge biotechnology, which involves the exploitation of molecular biology to design, develop and validate a cost-effective but yet very top-of-the-range kit for COVID-19 testing”, Prof Akpa said.

He added that the development and validation of RNASwift was also a reflection of the creativity that has gone on in Nigerian laboratories, working in collaboration with some scientists in the United Kingdom.

He revealed that the kit would enable the country test 5million farmers and farm labourers to ensure food security chain was not compromised by COVID-19.

The NABDA boss said: “It is important to mention that the RNASwift diagnostic kit is very accurate and sensitive.

“The validation results compare very favourably with conventional and commercially available kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

“This is in addition to a careful choice of reagents that are human and environmentally friendly in the development of the protocol for the diagnostic kit.

“In fact, 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.”

He said the limited availability in the country of affordable COVID-19 test kits necessitated the invention of RNASwift.

According to him, the kit will reshape Nigeria’s testing approach and bring the power of large scale and precise testing closer to more Nigerians.

“This is a giant leap in the quest to ensure that every Nigerian and indeed every African gets the best attention needed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

He said two Nigerian companies, Graeme Blaque Advisory and Cellulant Nigeria Limited provided the financial support for the validation of the kit development protocol as developed by Nigerian scientists.

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