NCDC boss: Shortage of reagents hindering large scale testing

The Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has blamed the inability of his agency to embark on massive testing of Nigerians for Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the scarcity of reagents globally.

Also, Ihekweazu debunked claims of discrepancies in the number of persons the NCDC sometimes listed as new cases, which conflicts with the number the states listed.

In the case of Lagos State, he said some persons who tested positive lived in Ogun State and had to be re-allocated in the NCDC register to their state of resident. “Sometimes, there is some discrepancy in number because of communication with the states.”

While speaking on a television interview yesterday, Ihekweazu disclosed that there was a global supply chain bottleneck around re-agents, which is the substance, used to carry out laboratory test to determine if a person either tests positive or negative for Coronavirus.

Ihekweazu said: “We have been working very hard with our partners to unblock that bottleneck; we are hoping to get our first supply soon.”

Diagnostic reagents play a major role in medical laboratories, helping to produce test results through diagnostic testing assays. Whether they are chemical, or biochemical in design, diagnostic reagents can be used to generate accurate and precise patient test results.

It will be recalled that there has been national and international call on the NCDC and state governments to do more Coronavirus tests for Nigerians with view to detect more COVID-19 cases as the Coronavirus is believed to have transited from global transmission to community transmission.

Although, the country has moved from its target to conduct 1,500 tests a day to 4,000 tests, as at last Friday, the low testing level is a worrisome development among key stakeholders such as the World Health Orgnisation (WHO), Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), among others.

These organisations and others believe that embarking on aggressive testing of Nigerians which will increase the number, would pave the way for the detection of more COVID-19 cases currently spreading in communities.

However, explaining the problem that insufficient reagents needed to do the tests has posed, the director general of the NCDC said, the problem of reagents were not issues that money or whatever could solve.

“There is a global shortage of reagents. As soon as we get this in, we will be able to scale radically our testing capabilities.”



Appolonia Adeyemi

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