By Gabriel Olawale
The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, in partnership with Fate Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 has announced the launch of the first SARS-CoV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay, SIMA, for easy diagnosis of COVID-19.
The SARS-CoV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay is a point-of-care molecular test kit that can detect COVID-19 in real-time in less than 40 minutes, compared to at least two hours for current testing protocols. SIMA is the first of its kind and fully funded by the FPCC.
At the launch, Coordinator of the FPPC Support Fund, Mr. Fola Adeola, said the test kit has been designed and developed to ease the challenges of the current method of testing which requires very heavy laboratory and expensive equipment to function.
“Part of the benefits of SIMA kit is that low-skilled personnel can be trained to perform this assay in tertiary health facilities where it can be used to diagnose COVID-19 in hospitalised patients. This will be particularly advantageous in remote areas with disadvantaged populations.
“We are proud to have provided the grant which helped NIMR to design and develop the SIMA and we are excited about the possibilities of this innovation in containing the COVID-19 spread and identifying people infected.”
He also noted that the FPCC Support Fund was set up on the 23rd of March 2020 to support ongoing national and community efforts to ameliorate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria by keying into local and the national government’s efforts to properly equip public health facilities and front-line personnel.
“Till date, the investment fund has supported other public health institutions including the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos” he added.
Also speaking, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research during the SIMA launch said “the impact of this innovation is a fast and sensitive point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2 using the molecular technique. It’s also a very reliable test kit and not just for antibodies or antigen testing. With the Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction system, NIMR can achieve some a total of 32 tests result in one hour.”