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R18 million set aside for local COVID-19 test kits, reagents

Global demand for reagents and test kits has resulted in countries like South Africa experiencing a shortage of these products.

FILE: A City of Tshwane Health official takes a nasal swab to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus on a taxi operator at the Bloed Street Mall in Pretoria Central Business District, on 11 June 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN – At least R18 million in funding has been made available to secure the production of locally developed reagents and COVID-19 test kits.

The Department of Science and Innovation, the South African Medical Research Council and the Technology Innovation Agency made seven funding awards available for this initiative.

Global demand for reagents and test kits has resulted in countries like South Africa experiencing a shortage of these products.

Having point-of-care kits for rapid detection of COVID-19 cases available will address bottlenecks experienced in the system.

Medical Diagnostech, a Brackenfell-based company producing diagnostic test kits for HIV, malaria and Schistosoma, is one of the companies tasked with developing COVID-19 rapid tests.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is tasked with producing reagent kits used to prepare naso/oropharyngeal swab samples for testing.

CSIR senior research scientist, doctor Previn Naicker, explained: “We will be working on the extraction kits for the swab samples.”

CapeBio Technologies and the Biopharming Research Unit at the University of Cape Town will also be involved in the production of reagents.

These products will be produced over the next six months.

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