Incas Diagnostics a Ghanaian diagnostic test startup has partnered the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to develop a COVID-19 Rapid Test.
According to a statement issued by the University’s Public Relations Officer, Dr Daniel Norris, the device requires little technical training and takes 15-20 minutes to perform enabling health authorities to make crucial decisions about treatment and isolation options. This would make it possible to undertake mass testing.
Dr Norris explained that product will complement the current Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing which will boost the fight against the pandemic in the country and also aligns with the government policy of containing the spread of the virus, inspiring the expansion of domestic capability and deepening self-reliance.
“These serological tests which use a finger-prick blood 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” he explained.
Dr Norris 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.”
The test was developed by scientists from the Departments of Clinical Microbiology, Medical Diagnostics, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) and Incas Diagnostics and is currently going through FDA approval.
One of the key challenges facing African governments in the fight against COVID-19 is the availability of testing. A locally developed and manufactured COVID-19 Rapid Test at an affordable price will make a big difference in the fight. Mass testing would enable people who test positive to isolate and minimize the community spread. Other challenges that require innovative solutions include how to cost effectively enable people in poorer communities who live in crowded multi family homes to effectively isolate if they test positive but do not require hospitalization.
Incas diagnostics was started as a social enterprise to provide affordable laboratory testing to reduce the cost of health care, however its founder Laud Bassing realised the only way to do this was using technology. He spent the next five years of his enterprise learning test kit development from the Diagnostic Consulting Network (DCN) in San Diego, California as well as the Linnes Global Health Technologies Laboratory in Purdue University in Indiana. The company was given a manufacturing license for medical devices in October 2019. Laud is the American Society for Microbiology’s Young Ambassador to Ghana, an executive member of GABMLS, a board member of Guzakuza, a firm that seeks to grow women agripreneurs, the president of YALN-Ghana, and a member of the Alliance for Young Entrepreneurs-Ghana.