Nigeria creates faster, cheaper coronavirus testing kit

The new test will help the country overcome its testing kit shortage and spread testing efforts to the rest of its massive population.

 TEST TUBE with coronavirus label is seen at the end of January.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
TEST TUBE with coronavirus label is seen at the end of January.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Nigerian scientists have made a faster and cheaper coronavirus testing kit to enable the country to expand testing efforts throughout its country, CNN reported Saturday.
According to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), the test will come with a price tag under $25, and the machine needed to analyze samples is portable and can be analyzed my low-skilled, minimally trained personnel. And finding out results will take less than 40 minutes, according to CNN.
This development is something Nigeria can use to expand testing efforts, as the country has seen a shortage of testing kits, which it imports from China. This has resulted in its massive population of nearly 200 million people, the largest population in Africa, being under-tested. And without tests, it is impossible for Nigerians to get medical treatment.
"We saw the need for more testing outfits, especially one that can give results in a short time because hospitals were refusing to treat patients without COVID-19 results," NIMR director Babatunde Salako told CNN.
"We thought this one was very important as it will diversify the way testing is done. With this one, all the people in villages and remote areas can be tested by moving the machine to those villages," he added.
At the time of writing, Nigeria has confirmed over 59,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,000 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, but only 500,000 people in its 200 million-strong populace have actually been tested, CNN reported.
The newly developed test is not the same as the PCR test, which is the most widespread and accurate coronavirus test and is imported into Nigeria from China. As a result, Nigerian test is not as accurate. However, "we believe it is good enough for now," Salako told CNN. This is because the newly developed testing kit requiers far less training and expertise, compared to the PCR tests, and because they are mobile, allowing tests to be taken place throughout the country, rather than in only the major cities.
The tests are set to be mass produced once the country's regulatory bodies validate them. However, Salako told CNN he doesn't expect that it will take much time.
"The only limitation is that we have to produce more samples of these kits and acquire some new machines that are key to our work. Once that is done, we can mass produce with government support and serve markets in all of Africa," he explained.