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Nigeria gets indigenous COVID-19 testing kit

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NIGERIA has announced the indigenous development and validation of  a test kit for the identification of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for COVID-19, to accelerate the capacity to test people and help effectively manage the coronavirus pandemic known as RNA Swift.

  Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu while disclosing this at a world press conference in Abuja, on Thursday,said the RNA Swift had amazing precision for the detection of SARS-COV-2 and will be commercially available at a price that places it ahead of competitors in terms of sensitivity and affordability” 

  Dr. Onu maintained that  the RNA Swift was borne out of a need in the agricultural sector to test Nigerian farmers and labourers, adding  that in the coming months, five million farmers will be tested with the RNA Swift kits from the first 10 million kits to be produced. 

  According to him, the development of the testing kit is Nigeria’s gift and contribution to help Africa and the world fight the COVID-19 pandemic”.

He said  that by encouraging our scientists and innovators, Nigeria has the capacity to find solutions to global challenges and  confirmed the support of the African Development Bank.

 “I want to confirm to you that the RNASwift product team is in consultation with the African Development Bank for the funding of an African-wide testing programme for COVID-19 and the establishment for RNASwift production in Nigeria”.

  Onu  said the development of the test kit, was as a result of careful planning and strategic investments of the Ministry’s departments and agencies and  commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Finance, The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Sheffield University, Scientists and the organized private sector for their collaborative efforts in the development of the testing kits.

  Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono said his ministry was working hard to ensure food security in the country, by supporting the fight against the spread of COVID-19, adding that the  ministry will continue to be in the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by ensuring that the newly developed testing kits is made available to test over five million farmers across the country.

  He commended the efforts of the federal government in minimising the spread of the virus and admonished Nigerians to look inwards, be more organised and focused so as to achieve greatness and more technological feats for the nation.

  Acting DG of NABDA, Alex Ukpa, said the invention of the RNA Swift testing kit would improve testing and bring the power of large scale and precise testing closer to Nigerians, adding that this approach will enable Nigeria and Africans at large get the needed attention to survive the pandemic.

   Prof. Akpa commended Graeme Blaque Advisory and Cellulant Nigeria Limited for their support in the validation of the testing kit, saying the testing kits will be produced in Nigeria so as to meet the testing needs of the entire African continent.

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