In the race against Covid-19 viral infection, Nigeria’s scientists have succeeded in isolating and violating the Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) of the coronavirus.
That now translates to ability to locally produce reagents for molecular testing, according to Prof. Alex Akpa, the director-general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.
So Nigeria, and indeed Africa won’t depend on imported testing kits with all its expenses and delay.
Akpan told NAN Thursday the major aim of the extraction is to “produce reagents for real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
“Remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place,” he said.
The DG recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.
Akpa added that the project 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.
Speaking, Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, Chief Molecular Bioengineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, hailed the “wonderful project.’’
Nnaemeka said it was designed to solve the problem of RNA extraction kit which had become a global issue.
“The western world prioritizes 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.
“The kits 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,’’ Nnaemeka said.
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has supplied Nigeria and some other African countries medical supplies, includig testing kits and PPEs.