Scientists at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in collaboration with Incas Diagnostics, a diagnostic company in Kumasi, have developed a rapid diagnostic test kit for COVID-19.
The test kit, which is currently being assessed by the Food and Drugs Authority and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, is expected to enhance the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity.
In a statement released by the University, “the development of the RDT is in line with two of Ghana’s objectives in the fight against COVID-19; contain the spread of the virus, inspire the expansion of our domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance”
KNUST adds that the locally developed test kit is capable of detecting asymptomatic cases, and requires little technical operation.
Also, the device is said to be able to run sample tests in less than 20 minutes, helping tested people to know their status in a shorter time.
“KNUST/Incas RDT detects asymptomatic cases, enables decentralized testing to be done anywhere without requiring any equipment. The device, also, requires little technical training for those performing the test. The test, which takes 15-20minutes to perform, would enable those tested to know their results in a shorter time to enable decision making in real time by health authorities,” the statement added.
The FDA and Noguchi are expected to, in the coming days, complete their assessment of the locally-developed Rapid Diagnostic Test kits for the coronavirus, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah have said.
Ghana’s COVID-19 testing figures
According to the Ghana Health Service, over 100,000 COVID-19 samples have been tested in the country.
Out of the number, 1,550 have been confirmed positive.
Head of Virology at Noguchi, Prof. William Ampofo says that the country’s testing figure is high because of a polling method that is being used by the laboratories.
“When these samples arrive at the lab, we go through a process to enable us utilize the reagents in a very efficient manner. We simply poll the samples. What this means is, if you have 1,000 samples, you put them in polls of ten and therefore, you test them at a time. So in a short time, instead of testing 1,000 samples, you actually test 10,000 samples,” Prof. Ampofo explained
The government has taken other steps to enhance the country’s testing capacity.
Some of these include the use of drones to transport samples to laboratories and recalibrating 100 Regional and District Tuberculosis Gene Expert Laboratories in the country to help ensure that every region has a minimum situation of one testing centre.
Meanwhile, the country is ranked number one in the continent in administering of tests per million population.