Senegal develops one dollar rapid testing kit for Covid-19
By Judah Ben-Hur | April 28th 2020
For one month now, Senegal has taken its place as a global trailblazer in the quest to invent a rapid testing kit for Covid-19.
The west African nation has developed such a kit will not only take under 10 minutes to do a test but also sell at a cost price of one US Dollar (Sh109).
Researchers have already commenced validation of the diagnostic testing that will allow people to conduct the tests at home.
Mass manufacture of the testing kits is set to start immediately in the United Kingdom and Senegal once it meets regulation standards.
According to one of the brains behind the innovation, Dr Amadou Sall, the plan is to ensure this test benefits the whole of Africa.
“There is no need for a highly-equipped lab. It is a simple test that can be done anywhere. The idea is to produce 2 to 4 million kits, not just for us but for African countries,” said Dr Amadou.
The small West African country that is a third the size of Kenya has also embarked on 3D printing of ventilators that cost about $ 60 (Sh6000) compared to imported ones costing $16,000 (Sh 1.6 million) ventilator costs.
This surge of innovation is as a result of the low numbers of necessary equipment such as ventilators which are under 50 in number meant to serve a population of sixteen million people in Senegal.
The acumen in the Senegalese innovations can be attributed to their experience in dealing with Ebola and Aids, a move that has shown that technological know-how is not limited to the west. Even though the piloting of these innovations started a month ago, engagements online about the country and its aptness in fighting the virus have flooded social media in recent days.
Despite having a low health expenditure, Senegal has also waged a good fight against Covid-19 and having 283 recovered cases; the highest in Africa.
However, innovations in the battle against Covid-19 are not only concentrated in Senegal but early this month the Kenya Medical Research Institute also started manufacturing of Covid-19 testing kits that will give results in fifteen minutes.
The kit to be used by KEMRI is similar to that used in testing HIV with three unilateral lines that will check for any SARS-like virus.
Two days ago on April 27, the Food and Drug Administration (USA) approved the first home Covid-19 testing kits. The announcement by Dr Stephen Hahn during the White House coronavirus task force briefing also saw the approval of 63 other types of tests aimed to increase and diversify the number of diagnostic and serologic (antibody) testing.
“Many other tests are becoming available, we have heard and have reported to us 220 labs around the country have begun patient testing using their own validated tests,” says Dr Hahn
The innovations are hand in hand with the request by the World Health Organization’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who asked countries to ramp up their capacities and “test, test, test”.
Even though most countries have not flattened the curve of infection of the virus, many are on the front line to ensure that they can do as many tests as possible to be able to contain the contagion.
The coronavirus has infected about 2.97 million and killed about 207,000 globally.
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