NCDC has successfully validated the first phase of the viral RNA extraction enabling local production of testing kits.
Nigeria has achieved a major breakthrough against coronavirus as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) validated the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction – a significant leap for Africa.
The validation took place on Thursday in the laboratory of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.
Prof. Alex Akpa, The Director-General of NABDA, said 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 (PCR), 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 director-general said.
He revealed that that the project was a Pan-African project which includes partners from Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, U.K., among others with funding to come from African Development Bank.
Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, Chief Molecular Bioengineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, maintained that he was instructed by the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, to, in his words, “launch this wonderful project.’’
In Nnaemeka’s viewpoint, the project is designed to solve the problem of RNA extraction kit which had become a global issue.
“The western world prioritises their own interest first by making sure that they meet their local needs before exporting to other countries, so there was really need for it.
“The kits compete favourably well with other international kits we are using, in fact, it scored highly in purity and in quantity of extraction and we are thinking of scaling production,’’ Nnaemeka said.
In a similar vain, Dr Rose Gidado, a scientist at NABDA, said the exercise was historic. According to her, the new test kit could test more than 20,000 people per day.
“If we set up more testing centres, we can easily do 50,000 with automation,” she said.