We reported in March that a Senegalese lab was working round the clock to develop very affordable and easy to use Covid-19 testing kit. It seems the effort has finally yielded results as Senegal’s Institut Pasteur de Dakar has developed a Covid-19 testing kit that costs $1 and can deliver results in about 10 minutes.
The institute was able to achieve this by drawing from a wealth of experience gathered from developing vaccines and treatments for several ailments including yellow fever and dengue.
The testing kit was developed in collaboration with Mologic, a British biotech company. However, the Covid-19 test kits won’t be ready for distribution until June, after necessary testing must have been concluded.
The updates also confirmed that the testing kit can be used at home for a simple test using the saliva or a blood sample of the individual. Similar to how a pregnancy test kit works, a bloodline appears to indicate the presence or absence of the COVID-19 antibody.
There is no need for a highly equipped lab, it is a simple test that can be done anywhere. The idea is to produce 2 to 4 million test kits not just for us but for African countries so that we can detect and isolate them quickly.Amadou Alpha Sall, Director of the Pasteur Institute (IPD)
What does this mean for Nigeria?
Part of Senegal’s response to the pandemic has also come from its engineers who have developed a process of using 3D-technology to print out ventilators and make them available at $60. This is relatively cheap compared to the $16,000 which is the cost of imported ventilators.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria continues to rise with no vaccine or treatment yet, the most pressing call of action still remains to test and isolate detected cases early.
However, with a population of 195.9 million and a fragile health system, solutions like Senegal’s Covid-19 testing kits that can be used at home without necessarily stressing health workers are very much needed to prevent the health facilities from being overrun.
Nigerians react to Senegal’s Covid-19 testing kits
In the wake of the development, many Nigerians expressed disappointment that the Nigerian government does not have a working structure that adequately supports research in the country.
The reactions allude to Senegal’s strides towards producing testing kits that particularly cater to the needs of the African continent on key areas including price, limited know-how required, availability and other technical requirements.
Some suggest that the FG deploys a research team to understudy the Covid-19 testing kits being developed at the IPD in collaboration with Mologic. The purpose of this would be to have local manufacturing sites in the country that would be subsidiaries of the IPD.
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