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COVID-19: Over 5m Nigerians to be tested with locally developed kit

In the coming months, five million farmers will be tested with the kits produced from the first 10 million

By Juliet Umeh

Not less than five Nigerian farmers and labourers will be tested for coronavirus with the newly developed RNA Swift in the coming months.

RNA Swift is a test kit for the identification of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for Covid-19.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu who disclosed this during the unveiling of the product in Abuja, said the test kit is produced locally to accelerate the capacity of testing people and to also test Nigerian farmers and labourers.

He said: “In the coming months, five million farmers will be tested with the kits produced from the first 10 million.

“The RNA Swift has 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.”

He described the development of the testing kit as “Nigeria’s gift and contribution to help Africa and the World fight the Covid-19 pandemic”, adding that by encouraging our scientists and innovators, Nigeria has the capacity to find solutions to global challenges.

The Minister commended the support of the African Development Bank.

He said: “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”.

He also recognised 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.

Also, the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono said his Ministry is working hard to ensure food security in the country, by supporting the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

According to him, his ministry will continue to be in the forefront of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, by ensuring that the newly developed testing kits are made available to test over 5 million farmers across the country.

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

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