In an effort to ramp up COVID-19 testing capacity, the Nigerian government has developed a molecular test kit named the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA). With the new kit the country can now reach higher daily target of testing. The minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, who made this information known at the bi-weekly Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, said the new NIMR can produce results in less than 40 minutes. “The Nigeria Institute of Medical Research has developed a molecular test for COVID-19 that can give results in less than 40 minutes.
“It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA) which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training,” Mr Mamora said.
This is faster as compared to the Reverse Transcription- Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) which is currently the main source of testing in the country. This method of testing takes several hours to produce results.
“Our goal is to have at least one standard infectious disease centre in every state. We shall therefore work with states to establish purpose-built treatment centres that will ensure we are better prepared for infectious disease outbreaks in the country.
“I shall again renew my appeal to state governments to continue to ensure that we step up case findings, sample collection and testing. It is only by testing that we can identify those with the infection for isolation and treatment,” Mamora added.
In a related development, the World Health Organization announced on Monday that some 120 million rapid tests for Covid-19 will be made available to poorer countries at $5 each, if it can find the money.
The global health organisation said the $600 million scheme would enable low- and middle-income countries to close the dramatic gap in testing for the new COVID-19, which has now lead to the deaths of more than a million people since first being recorded in Wuhan, China in December.