The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), University of Benin in collaboration with the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) hosted by the Redeemer’s University and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) have been awarded a Grant to validate Rapid Diagnostic Tests kits (RDT) for COVID-19 testing in Nigeria.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a research consortium between CERHI and UBTH for the testing of the SARS COV-2 virus. With CERHI’s laboratories and facilities, including RT-PCR machine for testing for the virus and UBTH’s expertise in managing infectious diseases, the unit was validated by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to become the second testing unit in Edo State, and one of the few in Nigeria. Similarly, the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) successfully sequenced the genomes of the COVID-19 virus and was the first institution to do so in Africa. Considering this knowledge and expertise, the three institutions partnered to apply for a Grant on the validation of RDTs in Nigeria. Led by Professor Friday E. Okonofua, Centre leader of CERHI and Professor Christian Happi, Centre Leader of ACEGID, the team’s proposal was selected for funding and implementation. The CERHI/UBTH/ACEGID team is one of the 5 teams selected to develop and implement a national protocol for the validation of RDT kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria. The projected timeline for completion of this project is four months.
The importance of this project stems from the fact that available rapid tests for COVID-19 in Nigeria have not been validated and as a result, this project will contribute to the validation of the rapid COVID-19 tests, comparing the sensitivities and predictive results obtained from their use with the gold standard and 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, and the continent at large.
The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI) and Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) are part of the 53 Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) supported by World Bank through the coordination of the Association of African Universities as the Regional Facilitation Unit. The ACE Impact project aims to address regional developmental challenges through quality post-graduate education and applied research (https://ace.aau.org/).
CERHI implements high quality training and applied research for reproductive health professionals. The centre is also a leading name in the development and implementation of several ground-breaking researches in the field of sexual and reproductive health and population studies within the continent (https://www.cerhiuniben.edu.ng/).
ACEGID focuses on capacity building of African scientists in the field of genomics. The centre aims to translate the research outcome to products that can be deployed to the field to contribute to the control, management and elimination of infectious diseases in the continent (https://acegid.org/).