The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) together with a diagnostic company, Incas Diagnostics in Kumasi, have developed Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) for Covid-19 testing.
According to a statement issued by the University’s Relations Officer, Dr Daniel Norris, the product will complement the current Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing which will boost the fight against the pandemic in the country.
He noted that the development of the RDT is in line with two of Ghana’s objectives in the fight against COVID-19; contain the spread of the virus, inspire the expansion of domestic capability and deepen self-reliance.
“These serological tests which use a finger-prick blood and in lateral flow format, similar to blood glucose test or home pregnancy test, detects two different types of antibodies produced by the body to fight off the Covid-19 infection about 7 days after infection and also in those who have been exposed to the virus but not showing any symptoms (asymptomatic) or recovered from infection,” he explained.
Dr Norris further added that: “Current molecular diagnostics; Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) which is being used in the country detects parts of the viral genome very early in infection and takes at least 48 hours from testing to results; potentially delaying contact tracing and other efforts.”
Stressing on the importance of the RDT, Dr Norris indicated that the new innovation can easily identify infected persons who are not even showing the symptoms.
“The device requires little technical training for those performing the test.
“The test which takes 15-20 minutes to perform, would enable those tested to know their results in a shorter time to enable decision making in real time by health authorities,” he said.
The KNUST PRO further highlighted that, the RDT will be suitable for mass testing to identify people who have been exposed to the virus.
Thus provide key data for efforts to model the course of the pandemic and also, enhance contact tracing efforts.
“In the future, it could also, help identify recovered patients who could then donate their SARS-CoV-2 antibody-rich serum to help treat critically ill patients as is being done in some countries.”
He was of the view that for researchers in the country, the antibody tests would enable the study of the dynamics of immune responses of infected people.
He indicated that since the country intends to partner and support Covid-19 vaccine development, antibody tests would be valuable in determining individual and community responses to the vaccine.
The Ministry of Health and the National Covid-19 Response Team have been duly informed of the development, Dr Norriss noted.
Adding that, the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) is currently being engaged for the necessary regulatory framework.
“KNUST salutes Scientists from the Departments of Clinical Microbiology, Medical Diagnostics, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) and Incas Diagnostics for working tirelessly on this development.”