Even for those that showed specificity and sensitivity of above 90%, Kaleebu says they gave confusing results when they tested their performance in detecting different antibodies which he worries would pose challenges for health workers to interpret.
The Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) are not reliable in clinically diagnosing
the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) has found.
Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director of UVRI told
a meeting of COVID-19 researchers on Wednesday that they have screened more
than 20 kits but only five showed effectiveness of about 98%.
Even for those that showed specificity and sensitivity of
above 90%, Kaleebu says they gave confusing results when they tested their
performance in detecting different antibodies which he worries would pose
challenges for health workers to interpret.
//Cue in: “We screened these …..
Cue out: ….. Interpret these results.”//
While many manufacturers have come into the country and presented
several of these RDTs, Uganda has not yet approved any of them for COVID-19
patient care. The country still recognizes only the PCR tests even as the World
Health Organization approved the use of the antigen RDT test in September.
Dr. Kaleebu says they have found the kits lack what the
manufacturers say they can do and have now instead explored other cheaper PCR
tests that the country can consider.
//Cue in: “Diagnostic kits are ….
Cue out: …… show poor performance.”//
Meanhile, as RDTs are being discouraged, scientists at
Makerere University say they are in advanced levels of completion of a testing kit which should available for use in December.
Dr. Misaki Wayengera, a lecturer who is the Principal
investigator on the study said their innovation is as effective as the gold
standard PCR. He explains that it is low cost and provides results in two to three
minutes and can be used at the point of care even in the most remote areas as
it doesn’t require a laboratory or unique technical skill to conduct.
//Cue in: “What we are …..
Cue out: …… particles become visible.”//
However, completing this innovation, Misaki says needs up to
870,000 dollars of which the government of Uganda through the Makerere
University Research and Innovations Fund has already provided about 20,000
dollars which was used to buy reagents.
He says this is only a drop in the ocean as they have had to
redo some procedures in order to have a globally acceptable product. Initially
they had set to have the test in use by June.
//Cue in: “We have a budget …….
Cue out: …….. of these details.”//
On Monday, the researchers were given a boost of $17,000 by
the French Embassy to fast track the availability of the kit. In his remarks at the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony, Ambassador Jules-Armand Aniambossou
said it's important that test comes in quickly considering the current raise in community transmission, affirming that Genecust, the French company that supplied the researchers with reagents for the test is credible.
Once approved, this test will be Uganda’s first RDT to be
used to test for COVID-19.