Poised to make COVID-19 test accessible to the majority of Nigerian citizens, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, has unveiled a locally developed molecular test kit for COVID-19.
The unveiling of the test kit, known as SARS CoV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay, SIMA, was done Friday at the NIMR auditorium, Yaba, Lagos.
SIMA has the capacity to test 32 samples and produce results in less than 40 minutes.
Speaking on the newly launched COVID-19 test kit, NIMR DG, Professor Babatunde Salako, said the equipment was developed out of the burden to meet the testing need of rural dwellers and researchers on the field with the need for COVID-19 test kit.
He said “The molecular laboratories we have today come with heavy equipment which are not moveable, so the idea of point of care testing was developed.
“Our new COVID-19 kit is more relevant now that schools are reopening, as it can be used in tertiary teaching hospitals to upscale COVID-19 testing in Nigeria”.
Salako further stressed the importance of the test kit in mitigating the spread of the novel Coroviruas virus saying :“While no effective vaccine has been developed to date, case detection remains the surest way of controlling the pandemic”.
Dr Salu Olumuyiwa, Centre for Human Zoonotic Virology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, also corroborated the statement of the DG on the kit, saying it has been evaluated by three labs in the state, and their findings are fantastic.
“In summary, the kit was tested and compared on different platforms and the overall result was 71 %. It was done in biology and the correlation was over 50%; at Chavy, we had a correlation of 100%.
“On the overall, the assay you developed is very crucial to identify cases in our community”, he stated.
He however noted that some level of improvement was required.
The inventor of the test kit, Dr Chika K Onwuamah, highlighted the comparative benefits of the kit over others, saying it is robust and fast with detection in minutes; it has simple workflow and amplification at low temperature (40°C); affordable equipment test reagent; proven to be versatile as PCR; and sensitive, specific with multiple detection formats.