The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) said the new test kit can produce results in less than 40 minutes.
The Nigerian government has developed the Sars-CoV-2 isothermal molecular assay (SIMA) test kit to improve its testing capacity for Covid-19.
In a statement on Thursday, Health Minister Olorunnimbe Mamora said the test kit developed by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) can produce results in less than 40 minutes.
Mamora said this is faster than the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), which is currently the main source of testing in the country. This method of testing takes several hours to produce results.
“The Sars-CoV-2 isothermal molecular assay (SIMA) can be performed by low-skilled personnel with minimum training,” Mamora said.
He said the kit is also 10 times cheaper than PCR and can be deployed for point-of-care detection and surveillance.
Mamora added that Nigeria is still struggling to ramp up its Covid-19 testing, mainly due to the lack of adequate equipment and reagents needed to carry out the PCR test.
“Tests to diagnose viral infections are key to controlling the pandemic, but Nigeria, like many other African countries, could not make any locally and was importing the kits.”
The Premium Times reported that in April the government announced its target of testing at least two million people within the next three months.
The online publication said the target elapsed before the health sector could cover not even 30% of that figure.
“The main challenge Nigeria has had with testing has been its inability to test as many people as possible. Inability to secure test kits in a world where they are still in high demand means that cheaper, alternative, mass-produced options are being sought all over the world,” forensic expert Ikemesit Effiong was quoted as saying.