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Govt, scientists working to produce COVID-19 test reagents locally

As the demand for screening and testing increased, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize earlier this week warned of a looming testing kit shortage.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN – Friday is the deadline for submissions for an innovation project aiming to boost the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

As the demand for screening and testing increases, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize earlier this week warned of a looming testing kit shortage.

And a group of government and scientific bodies are now looking to manufacture test reagents in the country.

Being able to use a laboratory test to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis is one of the fundamental strategies used to reduce the spread of the disease.

Mkhize said it was becoming more difficult to aggressively test for COVID-19 as there was a global need for test kits used to detect the coronavirus.

“We need society to understand that this is now becoming a constraint. It’s not so much about our capacity more than it is about whether global suppliers can respond to our requests because everyone else in the world is looking for exactly the same thing,” Mkhize said.

The South African Medical Research Council’s Professor Richard Gordon earlier told EWN, proposals should be geared towards the production of testing kit reagents as well as the production of COVID-19 rapid tests.

“There are people working in this space, if we get lucky, they will get investment for that final nudge to get their products to attainment level,” he said.

To date, more than 650,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the private and public sectors combined.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.