During an event that took place on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at the National Reference Laboratory, in Kigali, in which Africa Medial Supplier donated testing kits for Covid-19 to the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), officials said that the move will help speed up Covid-19 testing as well as reduce related costs.
The company provided 2,500 antigen Covid-19 test kits, and 2,500 antibody tests. The kits are worth $50,000 (about Rwf47 million) in monetary value.
Antibody testing checks your blood by looking for antibodies and reveals whether you were infected with the Covid-19 virus in the past and now have antibodies against the virus.
For antigen tests, they are diagnostic tests which quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity, or from the respiratory tract of a person.
Antigen Covid-19 test kits are considered one of the rapid and easy-to-use devices intended to facilitate testing outside of laboratory settings.
Dr. Mwikarago Yvan, Division Manager of the National Reference Laboratory at RBC, said that the antigen test kits will help provide Covid-19 results within 30 minutes, which is a significant stride as the results have been taking seven to eight hours in the current situation.
Rwanda has been evaluating the technology to ascertain whether it works well and can expedite test results for Covid-19.
“It is the first time we are going to use antigen-based rapid Covid-19 tests. The validation we have been carrying out has shown that this kind of test is one of the rapid means we can adopt,” he said.
Fabrice N. Shema, CEO of Africa medical Supplier said that these test kits will help the Government to rapidly conduct mass screening, which is important in dealing with the pandemic.
“As there is no effective cure for the Covid-19 pandemic yet, what we can do is to test as many people as possible in a short time especially in places where many people meet, such as markets, so that everyone knows their state – whether they are Covid-19 positive or not so as to make informed decisions,” he said.
“If people are trained in how to use such kits, the number of tests can increase to 100,000 per day. That helps devise further preventive measures against the virus when one is not infected with it, and provide timely treatment to the asymptomatic patients for Covid-19,” he said.
Mwikarago said that the country has the capacity to perform up to 5,000 Covid-19 tests per day by using PCR technology; he indicated that the country will use the new kits and continue to assess their performance to ensure their effectiveness.
“If we find that they are providing rapid and reliable results, we will procure others such that we can use them countrywide,” he said.
A PCR test is a molecular diagnostic testing technique that detects the genetic material from the virus and can help diagnose an active Covid-19 infection.
Currently, a person has to pay $50 (about Rwf47,000) to be tested for Covid-19 in Rwanda, as per information from RBC.
Shema said that the new kits could help lower the fee paid for getting Covid-19 results.
“Based on the estimates that have been made, the cost could be $10,000 (about Rwf9,500) per Covid-19 test. But, that fee might even be reduced based on negotiations,” he said.