Nigerian genomics research startup, 54gene has announced that it has joined NCDC’s accredited testing network for COVID-19 in Nigeria.
To support the effort of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the startup will be conducting tests in Lagos and Ogun states, with plans to expand into Kano state soon.
This is in furtherance of the startup’s drive to help tackle the current challenges around testing for COVID-19 in Nigeria and increase testing capacity across the country. Recently the startup donated $500,000 to intensify efforts and help increase COVID-19 testing capacity in the country by up to 1,000 additional tests daily.
Nigeria which confirmed its first case on February 27 has now seen the number of confirmed cases rise to 1,273 over the last 8 weeks. Of the total confirmed cases, 239 persons are reported to have recovered and have been discharged, while the death toll stands at 40.
States like Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Ogun lead the charts with 735, 141, 77, 35 confirmed cases respectively. It’s, therefore, not surprising that the first areas of focus for by 54gene are some of these states.
Despite the high number, there have been valid concerns as to the number of tests the NCDC has conducted so far. According to its official site, it has carried out 10,918. Many consider this meagre compared to other African countries like Ghana and South Africa which have both conducted over 60,000 and 100,000 tests respectively.
The slow pace of Covid-19 testing aside, the selective method being employed in selection of test subjects is because Nigeria lacks the capacity and equipment to do so on a vast scale. However, together with stakeholders and startups like 54gene, the NCDC can augment for the insufficient capacity and carry out more tests.
Interestingly, 54Gene is not the only healthtech startup to have joined the test network. Healthtech logistics startup, LifeBank recently launched its Drive-thru Mass Testing lab located in Yaba, to let residents test for free.
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