As part of efforts to expand COVID-19 testing capacity across Lagos, the state government has approved seven private laboratories to commence sample analysis for the virus.
The laboratories are; Total Medical Services, SynLab, 54 Gene, Medbury Medical Services, Biologix Medical Services, 02 Medical Services and Clina Lancent Laboratories.
In a statement last night to announce the development, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said the laboratories were selected and approved to carry out COVID-19 testing after a rigorous accreditation and validation process by the Health Facility Monitoring and Accrediation Agency (HEFAMAA) and the Lagos State Bio-Bank.
He said: “A key element in the next phase of the state’s response strategy is to expand diagnostic testing to strategically ensure a larger number of people have access to COVID-19 test. We have developed an inclusive strategy that aims to harness the public and private sectors to rapidly expand the state’s capacity to meet the growing demand for testing in the next stage of biosecurity road map.
“We recognise the need to expand our testing, especially to the local government areas that are most affected by the community transmission of the virus and as Lagos State continuously manages the public crises caused by COVID19, it simultaneously attempts to open up various aspects of its economy. Both efforts make it imperative that COVID19 tests are widely available to members of the public.
“In a bid to ramp up our testing capacity, we have taken a strategic decision to include private laboratories in the testing of COVID-19. However, the state’s COVID-19 response will remain a centrally managed emergency response by the government and the need to test will be surveillance driven and based on a clear case definition.”
Abayomi added that the state had also identified potential opportunities to achieve its goal of expanded testing via a carefully articulated framework.
He stressed that recognition of the potential opportunities was what led to the partnership with the private sector laboratories to rapidly increase diagnostic testing for COVID-19 response.
The commissioner while noting that the accredited private laboratories will carry out only PCR test stated that the use of Rapid Diagnostic Tests Kits (RDT) remains illegal in Lagos until the state government can validate RDT kits that actually works.
“In order to expand our testing capacity, we considered the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits. To facilitate the quick validation of the RDT Kits and reduce the barrier of entry for proposed manufacturers and supplier of RDT Kits, Mr. Governor paid the validation fees for the RDT kits
“However, upon review of the several RDT kits that were submitted for validation, we can report that none of the RDT kits passed the validation exercise. RDT kits have a very high risk of giving false positive or negative results and in the event that a false positive result is given, a potentially negative person will be subjected to trauma, isolation and treatment like a positive patient. In the event that a false negative is given, a potentially positive person is allowed to continue to roam freely in the community regardless of his positive status”, Abayomi posited.
Highlighting the demand for COVID-19 testing in the community, the commissioner opined that citizens will request for COVID-19 test; to confirm status periodically, as part of requirements for returning to work, regulatory requirements for selected industries like the food and beverage industry, local and international travel requirements, requirements for resuming school and admission into hospital.
“We expect demand for tests from the following industries: individuals in the informal sector, banking and finance, manufacturing, food & beverages, schools, aviation industry, fast moving consumer goods, hospitality amongst others. Based on the projected cumulative demand from the above, we believe that demand for COVID-19 tests could exceed 4,000 per day in the next six months”, he said.