At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), University of Benin, established a research consortium with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) through which they jointly used CERHI’s facilities, including a RT-PCR machine for testing for the virus. The unit was validated by the Nigerian Centre for disease Control (NCDC) on May 10, 2020, and this became the second testing unit in Edo State, and one of the few in the country.



CERHI/UBTH Team Collaborates with ACEGID …

On May 14, 2020, CERHI/UBTH team in collaboration with the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) in Redeemer University, Ede (which has also gained national and international preeminence in COVID-19 research) responded to a call for the submission of concept papers by the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) by submitting a paper titled: “Validation of rapid diagnostic test kits for covid-19 antibodies in Nigerian Samples”.

“Two weeks later, the concept paper was selected by the NCDC for progression to submission of a full proposal.  The research consortium developed and submitted the full proposal on 29th June 2020 and by 14th August 2020, Dr. Chinwe Lucia Ochu, the program officer from the NCDC notified the principal investigator, Professor Friday E. Okonofua, that the full proposal had been selected for funding and implementation.  By this approval, the CERHI/UBTH/ACEGID team will be among the 5 teams that will develop & implement a national protocol for the validation of RDT kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria. The projected timeline for completion of the study is four months.”

The importance of this project derives from the fact that although there are currently available rapid tests for COVID-19 in Nigeria, none has been validated and approved by NCDC as accurate for testing.  This project will contribute to validating some of the available rapid COVID-19 tests, comparing the sensitivities and predictive results obtained with their use with the gold standard, the PCR test.  If the rapid tests are found to be sensitive and accurate, it will expand access to COVID-19 testing to millions of Nigerians, with implications for the rest of the African region.

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