Nigeria recorded a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19 with the successful validation the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction which will enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC
This exercise took place on Thursday in the laboratory of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.
In a statement to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa stated that this feat was important not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole.
“The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa.
“The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place.
“This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,’’ Akpa said.
The project, according to the DG, was a Pan-African project whose partners include Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, U.K., among others with funding to come from African Development Bank.
Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, Chief Molecular Bioengineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, who was mandated by the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, to launch the project, said the project is designed to help resolve the issue of global scarcityof RNA extraction kit.
“The western world prioritises their own interest first by making sure that they meet their local needs before exporting to other countries, so there was really need for it,’’ he said,
Nnaemeka goes on to say that the kits will compete favourably well with other international kits we are using, in fact, it scored highly in purity and in quantity of extraction and we are thinking of scaling production.