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COVID-19: NIMR begins test trial tomorrow – Prof Salako

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…to commence trial on the efficacy of chloroquine in 2 weeks

Director-General of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako

By Chioma Obinna,

As part of efforts to provide laboratory testing for more Nigerians following the increasing cases of Coronavirus disease in the country, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, will begin clinical trials on three rapid testing kits for the disease tomorrow.

Also, the institute will commence clinical trials on the efficacy of chloroquine on people who tested positive to COVID-19 and those showing symptoms but not confirmed yet.

Disclosing these in an exclusive interview with  Sunday Vanguard, Director- General of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako, explained that the free Rapid Kits Test was designed to ascertain the accuracy of the kits compared to the PCR testing which is the gold stand recommended by the World Health Organisation, WHO.

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The free clinical trial of some Rapid Test Kits, according to the Director-General, is strictly for Nigerians who just returned from high-risk countries and are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

His words: “We hope to start the test on Monday. We are doing more clinical trials on some of the new Rapid Test Kits. There are about three of them and we are trying to do clinical trials on those devices and then compare with the WHO recommended gold standard which the country is currently using. The result of the use of the kits will be presented to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.

“The test kits will determine if a person has the disease or not. We are also doing this trail to know how effective they are. For the one I have seen, the result is generated within 10 to 20 minutes.”

Salako, who said the free testing for Nigerians was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to provide more testing opportunities for Nigerians, said the institute was working with NCDC, and Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.

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According to him, positive persons during the period of testing would be sent to Infectious Disease Hospital or the NCDC.

Noting that the test kits were still expensive, he said they have up to 2,000 test kits provided by a group of people free of charge to the institute.

He said: “We have enough to start. We are testing the kits we want to use which is about 2,000 and will get more if we have more money. Plans are underway for those who are supporting us to ensure that that we have more.

“We are only going to test people who have come in contact with positive cases and those who just returned from high-risk countries with some symptoms. We will not be able to cope with testing everybody. We will start with these people then, if we find out that we have more kits we can review the rules and bring in more people whether they are showing symptoms or not.

On Chloroquine trial, Salako said they would be looking at the use of chloroquine for people who are positive for COVID-19 to determine whether the drug works or not to be able to advise policymakers.

He said:” Chloroquine will be used on people that tested positive and also on those who have come in contact with confirmed positive persons and then follow them up for about three or four weeks.’’

On what they would do if the drug becomes effective against the disease, he said: “Ours is to write an official report on it and pass to the NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health to decide.

“We are hoping to do it very quickly to see if we can provide information for the health sector for them to use it on patients. We are starting in a few weeks because there are processes, ethical approvals involved. We have to get the drugs but we are already close to the ethics approval so within the next few weeks we should start. We will also let Nigerians know when we start.”


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