COVID-19: Nigeria yet to Test 1Million out of 206 Million Population, Scientist Decry


-As NIMR Unveils New COVID-19 Rapid Test Kit

COVID-19: Nigeria yet to Test 1Million out of 206 Million Population, Scientist Decry
L-R: Prof.Rosemary Audu; Dr Joseph Shuaib; NIMR DG, Prof. Babatunde Salako; Prof. Nkirukah Odinukwe; Medical Director/ CEO, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Dr Olayemi Cecilia Ogun, and two other staff of NIMR at the launch of SCODA.

A researcher with the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Dr Joseph Shuaib has frown at the limited number of COVID-19 test conducted in Nigeria since the outbreak of the infection in the country, saying samples tested so far are less than a million in a nation with an estimated 206 population.

This comes as NIMR on Tuesday introduced a locally produced COVID-19 rapid testing kit named SARS COV-2 Detention Assay (SCODA) which has the ability to produce 387 tests in 57 minutes.

Speaking on the SCODA innovation, the NIMR Director General, Prof. Babatunde Salako described it as a molecular assay that uses real time PCR technique to detect two targets of SARS COV-2,  which are N-gene, ORF1ab- gene and internal control.

Salako noted that the newly launched test kit will help in no small measure in bridging the gap in testing for COVID-19 in the country, with its unique features of affordability and timeliness.

Highlighting the difference between the newly launched SCODA and a formerly introduced test kit SARS-CoV-2 Isothemal Molecular Assay(SIMA), Salako said SIMA is specific for T16 Isothermal machine, which cannot work with PCR machine; but SCODA can work with PCR machine.

“When the researcher saw that getting Isothermal machine is nothing to come by in Nigeria, he spoke with the manufacturer, then with increased in number of infections with the second wave, the innovator felt that the best he could do was to develop another test kit that can easily work with conventional PCR that all laboratories already have.

“SKODA is a COVID-19 test kit that will work with PCR laboratories. All we have to do is to produce and give to laboratories. For SIMA, If we produce it, we must get Isothermal machine to use, although it has the benefit of moving to point of care use” he explained.

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The originator of SCODA, Dr Joesph Shuaib revealed reasons for his invention of the local rapid test kit saying with about 80 laboratories approved by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC for testing of COVID-19 samples, they are still grappling with reaching a million samples tested out of 206 million people.

Shuaib explained further that with exchange rate soaring daily, importation of test kits becomes more difficult, while the second wave of COVID-19 has commenced in several countries.

Thus, to improve testing capacity in the country, he said it was needful to develop an indigenous rapid test kit which can be made readily available at cheaper rate.

“ In order to make room for more testing, we developed a test kit that can challenge any other of its equivalent in the world, which is called SKODA.
One of the biggest advantage is that it is very fast, as the result comes out in 57 minutes.

“We have worked with up to 5 kits in our laboratory in testing for Coronavirus and the shortest has been VGI which is 88 minutes, but this one, in 57 minutes, you can do up to 384 tests and it is 80 per cent cheaper”, he stated.




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