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Coronavirus

Covid-19: African Union releases new guidance on use of Rapid Antigen Tests

The Africa CDC has released new guidance on the use of Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19 Response.

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The Africa Union Commission, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and partners, has released a new Guidance on the Use of Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19 Response.

Together with the Quality Assurance Framework for SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Testing for Diagnosis of COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid diagnostic test training materials, experts hope that the document will help increase rapid antigen testing capacity across Africa as quickly as possible.

READ: Covid-19: Scientists from Oxford university develop 5 minute vaccine test device

This development is key as the continent has witnessed spikes in COVID-19 caseload and deaths. The Commission calls on Member States to prioritize rollout of rapid antigen testing as part of an urgent effort to increase national COVID-19 testing capacity and better manage the pandemic, towards achieving test positivity rates of less than five percent.

  • In September 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the use of rapid antigen diagnostic tests in response to the challenges countries are facing with scaling up testing using nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT).
  • NAAT is costly and often requires more than two days to return test results and this seriously limits its widespread use especially in hard-to-reach communities. The speed of testing and reporting of results to individuals and public health authorities for isolation and contact tracing is essential in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

READ: Aliko Dangote Foundation Engages 54gene Laboratory to Conduct 1,000 COVID-19 Tests per Day in Kano

This new strategy by the African Union Commission is part of the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT), which the Commission rolled out in June 2020 to rapidly increase testing, tracing and treatment capacity for COVID-19 response across Africa.

Led by Africa CDC, this global network of partners has been working hard since September 2020 to source more than 11 million rapid antigen test kits for distribution to Member States.

READ: Up to 80% of Africans willing to take Covid-19 vaccine

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Testing is a key first line of defence against COVID-19, that enables early identification and isolation of cases to slow transmission and enhance provision of targeted care to those infected while continuing with other vital healthcare services. Testing is also key to the successful delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Antigen tests are more affordable, easier to use, and provide results within 15 minutes at the point-of-care.
  • The new guidance document provides recommendations to health authorities as well as laboratory and clinical personnel in Africa on the use of rapid antigen tests. The accompanying quality assurance framework and training materials will guide rollout, implementation and evaluation of rapid antigen testing.

READ: How five Nigerian tech-startups are tackling COVID-19 outbreak

What they are saying

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC noted that:

  • “We have made significant progress in Africa in terms of testing, but we must acknowledge that we are not there yet. The antigen test is a game changer that Member States should adopt to boost the capacity of countries to rapidly scale-up and increase testing with quicker turnaround time for obtaining test results.”

Mr Ndlovu Nqobile, Chief Executive Officer, African Society for Laboratory Medicine, a PACT partner organization, stated that:

  •  “The availability of high-performance antigen rapid testing provides the opportunity to truly deploy testing for more effective epidemic control and to expand testing beyond the more restricted and traditional settings.”

READ: Davido cancels label’s live concert due to surge in coronavirus cases

Dr Catharina Boehme, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a PACT partner organization submitted that:

  • “Even with vaccine availability, testing remains the backbone of the COVID-19 response, providing essential data for decision-making by governments and policymakers. Rapid antigen tests will allow a significant scale-up of testing capacity, and the new guidance on key use cases will ensure that testing can be deployed when and where it will have the greatest impact.” 

READ: Plateau’s Governor Lalong tests positive for COVID-19

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What you should know

  • COVID-19 rapid antigen testing is recommended as a high performing test for individuals with symptoms, high-risk populations, healthcare workers or essential workers and contacts in settings where NAAT is not available or where turnaround time for NAAT results is prolonged.
  • It is also recommended for use in settings such as borders or points of entry, workplaces, educational institutions, correctional facilities, or other closed facilities with suspected or confirmed cases.
  • Strategy encourages countries to adopt rapid antigen tests to scale-up COVID-19 testing.
  • The Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) has been working to source 11 million rapid antigen tests for Africa.
  • The new Guidance on Use of Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19, the Quality Assurance Framework and training materials will help African countries to quickly increase rollout of rapid antigen testing, toward achieving less than five percent test positivity rates.
  • PACT was established by Africa CDC as a strategy to help increase COVID-19 testing and reduce its transmission in Africa. The partnership is mobilizing experts, community workers, medical supplies and other resources to support Test, Trace and Treat for COVID-19 in a timely manner and to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the continent.

Adeyemi holds a PhD in Accounting Sciences. He has worked in the Educational Sector and as an Independent Consultant.

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: Nigeria committed to procuring 29 million J&J vaccines

The Nigerian Government is still committed to acquiring 29.59 million doses of Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccines through the Afrixem Bank AVAT initiative. 

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AstraZeneca suspends COVID-19 vaccine final stage trial over safety concerns, COVID-19: J&J starts vaccine trials on humans after success on monkeys

The Nigerian Government says it is still committed to acquiring 29.59 million doses of Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccines through the Afrixem Bank AVAT initiative.

This was disclosed Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance at the recent ‘Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) General Assembly webinar.

What the Minister said

“Therefore, the supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccines will cover the cost of additional vaccines over and above those provided by COVAX, as well as the full cost of operations and logistics for delivering the vaccines around the country.

Already, the sum of N29.1 billion has been released from the Routine Immunization budgetary provision (Service Wide Vote) to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) as an advance for the operational cost of deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines. The N29.1 billion represents about 52 percent of the amount required over 2021-22,” she said.

She added that FG plans to vaccinate 70 percent of eligible (18 years and above) Nigerians over the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, with the COVAX agreement willing to cover 43.1 million of the eligible population.

In case you missed it

The World Health Organization (WHO)  announced the approval of China’s Sinopharm vaccine for Covid-19 vaccination. The vaccine is reported to have 79% efficacy against covid.

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: FCT to end vaccination May 14

The FCT Primary Health Care Board (FPHCB) announced it would end the first round of Covid-19 vaccination on the 14th of May.

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The FCT Primary Health Care Board (FPHCB) announced it would end the first round of Covid-19 vaccination on the 14th of May.

This was disclosed by Mrs Salome Tor, Programme Officer, FPHCB in a meeting with newsmen on Friday.

She disclosed that the FCT received 248,400 doses of vaccine and has successfully vaccinated  96,559 as of May 6, 2021, thanks to a team of 169 health workers.

“We have a minimum of three health workers in each team, they have all been distributed into the six area council. All the government hospitals in the FCT are selected locations for this vaccination.

“We also have temporary fixed post team; these are special teams who visit various organisations or special location. We urge people to go and vaccinate before the exercise closes,” she said.

The FPHCB added that Nigerians still need to get vaccinated and urged for the media’s participation in spreading awareness of the vaccination drive.

“We need at least seven out of 10 people to be vaccinated to be able to withstand the SARS 2 virus of COVID-19. I consider that as a deliberate hazard that will become hazardous to the community, so we advise that people shouldn’t put themselves in that position, they should go ahead and take the vaccine.

“We started this vaccination in FCT on March 15, the country at large started it on March 5, we have not seen anybody who complains of the vaccine in FCT, maybe blood clot or death.

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“Why are people waiting, they should go ahead and take this vaccine in the health facility within the 62 wards of the FCT, the vaccine is safe,” the healthcare board said.

What you should know

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency announced that as of May 7, 2021, it had vaccinated 1,615,787 residents, which is 80.3% of its proportion.

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