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SAMRC to finalise process of reviewing COVID-19 testing innovations

The council has received around thirty applications from innovators for the development of local diagnostics and reagents.

FILE: Medical swabs to test for the coronavirus. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) will soon finalise a process to review innovations aimed at addressing COVID-19 testing shortages.

The council has received around thirty applications from innovators for the development of local diagnostics and reagents.

Shortages, as a result of a global need, has in some instances resulted in severe delays in the turnaround time for laboratory test results needed to confirm diagnosis.

On request from the National Health Laboratory Service, the SAMRC launched the innovation project to mitigate reagent shortages experienced in COVID-19 testing.

SAMRC executive director Professor Richard Gordon explained that they had fast-tracked processes, aiming to see a good quality finalised product in the shortest possible time.

“We’ve already set up the review panel and in the middle of next week, we plan to meet on that. So, that will happen in a space of about 10 days.”

Proposals must address amongst others the development of components or kits for the safe viral RNA extraction for COVID-19 testing, as well as alternatives to PCR testing that detects the presence of viral genetic material.

It's also looking to find rapid tests that detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins or particles.

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