This is one of the systems approved by the World Health Organization-WHO or the American Food and Drug Administration under emergency authorisation. The system hasn’t undergone the normal authorisation process because of the growing demand for test kits for COVID-19 samples across the world with over 1 million people infected.
Uganda Virus Research Institute-UVRI is considering using the Roche Cobas 6800/8800 system to test corona virus samples. Prof.
Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director Uganda Virus Research Institute, says
the Roche Cobas 6800/8800 system will enable them test between 340- 950
samples within 8 hours.
This is one of the systems
approved by the World Health Organization-WHO or the American Food and Drug
Administration under emergency authorisation. The system hasn’t undergone
the normal authorisation process because of the growing demand for test
kits for COVID-19 samples across the world with over 1 million people infected.
However, the system has been
pre-tested for accuracy and recommended for use. Kaleebu says the Roche
Cobas system will boost their capacity to to handle more samples compared to
the test kits they have been using, which can only test a maximum of 500
samples a day.
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Ever since the emergence of the coronavirus disease-COVID-19
in China and it's spread to several parts of the world including Uganda, UVRI
has tested 3,500 samples, 53 of which tested positive. The Institute receives
on average 50 to 150 samples for testing each day.
Kaleebu however, notes that they will not
abandon the current testing kits but they just want to prepare for an
increased workload by adding another method to enhance capacity in the
event that the institute starts receiving 1,000 samples daily. He says the only issue with using Roche Cobas system
is that "you must have 480 samples per shift otherwise you will be wasting
The World Health Organization -WHO pledged to donate
to UVRI reagents for the Roche Cobas system last month to test between 2,000
and 5,000 COVID-19 samples. WHO is yet to fulfill its pledge. On Tuesday, Parliament approved an additional Shillings
4.5 billion for UVRI and the Central Public Laboratory-CPHL to handle COVID-19
Kaleebu notes that the Central Public Health Laboratory-CPHL,
which is found in Butabika has the Roche Cobas system, which he says is also compiling
an inventory of the test kits both public and private laboratories in the
country and their capacity to test COVID-19 samples to support UVRI.
He is optimistic that the manufacturer of the Roche Cobas
systems will also supply the reagents once UVRI is given the green light from Ministries
of Health and Finance to procure them. "So many manufacturers are trying to make test kits and
their reagents. I therefore believe the ones for Roche Cobas will also provide
the accompanying reagents," Kaleebu said.
UVRI has been using test kits that are not
machine specific, which made it easy for the Institute to use the same machines
it uses for testing influenza, HIV and Hepatitis B. "Since
influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory viruses, they have some
similarities such as signs and symptoms," Kaleebu said.