By Sylvester Thompson
Abuja, Oct. 21, 2020 The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says it is working on plans to produce locally made test kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria.
NABDA Director-General, Prof. Alex Akpa said this while speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday, in Abuja.
Akpa said that the test kits would be produced using Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) Swift extraction technique.
“The RNA extraction kit was successfully validated in Nigeria in May, we are working with partners from Taiwan and the University of Sheffield in the U.K, to set up the plant to produce the test kits in Nigeria.
“After the arrival of the partners, the facilities in Nigeria will rapidly be developed, built and put to used, not only to serve the country but the rest of Africa,” he said.
He said that the validation of RNA extraction kit was a scientific collaboration between NABDA, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Institute for Medical Research.
Akpa said that Alhaji Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has already written, requesting that arrangements be made to test five million Nigerian farmers with the new kits if successfully produced.
“These five million farmers would be drawn from the major strategic areas in key enterprises in agriculture which include crops, animal husbandry and fisheries,’’ he said.
He said that transporters and truck drivers involved in moving agricultural produce from the Northern part of the country to the South and other parts of the country will be included.
Akpa also said the minister was ready to work with NABDA’s team alongside all agricultural value chains associations to ensure that real farmers in their local communities were tested and their COVID-19 status known.
“You can see that this is a massive intervention to assist the country and totally break the cycle of the deadly virus in the country,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Nigeria’s efforts at developing solution to the challenge of non-availability and high cost of COVID-19 diagnostic kits finally paid off with the development of the RNA Swift Extraction kit.
The kit was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a U.K-based Nigerian scientist.
It is believed that the RNA Swift test kit would not only revolutionalise Africa’s PCR-Based COVID-19 testing, but will also expand its capacity by at least 50 times