Fate foundation collaborates with NIMR on quicker COVID-19 test kits



The FATE Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 (FPCC) Support Fund, a Philantropy unit of FATE Foundation, has announced the inauguration of the first SARS-CoV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA).

A statement by Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director of the foundation, said that the inauguration was in partnership with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that SIMA is a Point-of-Care molecular test kit that can detect COVID-19 faster.

Adeyemi said it can detect COVID-19 in less than 40 minutes, compared to at least 2 hours that it takes the current testing protocols.

“SIMA is the first of its kind and was fully funded by the PFCC.

“It has been designed and developed by the NIMR to ease the challenges posed by the current method of testing which requires heavy laboratory and expensive equipment to function.’’

She said that an added advantage of the kit was that low-skilled personnel can be trained to perform the assay in tertiary health facilities where it can be used to diagnose COVID-19 in hospitalised patients.

“ This will be particularly advantageous in remote areas with disadvantaged populations,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the FPPC Support Fund, Mr Fola Adeola, said that the fund was proud to have provided the support grant used to develop the kit.

“Pioneering this research work, led by some of our nation’s leading public health researchers at NIMR exemplifies the potentials of health innovation in Nigeria when effectively supported and enabled.

“ We are proud to have provided the grant which helped NIMR to design and develop the SIMA.

“We are excited about the possibilities of this innovation in containing the COVID-19 spread and identifying people infected,” he said.

Adeola noted that the FPCC Support Fund was set up in March to support ongoing national and community efforts to ameliorate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria.

“Till date, the investment fund has supported other public health institutions, including the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos,” he added.

Similarly, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director General, NIMR, alluded to the reliability and effectiveness of the test kits.

Salako said the impact of this innovation is a fast and sensitive point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2 using molecular technique.

“ It is also a very reliable test kit for antibodies or antigen testing.

“With the Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction system, NIMR can achieve a total 32 tests result in one hour,’’ he said.

Salako also assured that with relevant support, the test kit’s reagents can be produced in Nigeria with 80-90 per cent locally sourced materials. (NAN)