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Ghanaian scientists develop rapid test kit for COVID-19

A rapid diagnostic test has been developed in Ghana for the new coronavirus. Scientists at the Kwame Nkurumah University of science and technology (KNUST) and Incas Diagnostics, both based in the Ashanti Region capital, Kumasi, are currently optimising the kit for Covid-19 testing.

Scientists from the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), one of the major testing centres for Covid-19 in Ghana, made significant inputs into the development.

The new RDT kit for Covid-19 is a boost for Ghana’s efforts at holding the disease because it is consistent with the government’s strategy to dealing with the pandemic: contain the spread, inspire the expansion of domestic capability and deepen self-reliance.

The KNUST-Incas Diagnostic technology uses a finger-prick blood – just like blood glucose test or home pregnancy test – to detect two different types of antibodies produced by the body when it is fighting off Covid-19 infection at least seven days after infection – whether the person is showing symptoms or not.

The current method of testing has proven to be effective but it is time consuming in that results take 48 hours to emerge. This delays contact tracing and other efforts due to its lack of speed. The tests are unable to identify people who have been infected (symptomatic or asymptomatic) and recovered.

However, the KNUST-Incas Diagnostic kit detects asymptomatic cases, enables decentralised testing to be done anywhere without requiring any equipment.

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“The device also requires little technical training for those performing the test,” Dr Daniel Norris Bekoe, University Relations Officer at KNUST, explained in a press release.

He said the test takes 15 to 20 minutes to perform and will enable people anxious to know the status get their results in a shorter time to enable decision making in real-time.

For researchers in the country, the antibody tests would enable the study of the dynamics of immune responses of infected people.

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