FATE Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 (FPCC) Support Fund, the philanthropy unit of FATE Foundation in partnership with Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has announced the launch of the first SARS-CoV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA).
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 2 hours that it takes the current testing protocols. SIMA is the first of its kind and was fully funded by the FATE Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 Support Fund (PFCC).
This test kit has been designed and developed by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) to ease the challenges posed by the current method of testing which requires very heavy laboratory and expensive equipment to function.
An added advantage 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.
Speaking about the Launch, Coordinator of the FPPC Support Fund, Mr. Fola Adeola, was quoted in a statement to have said, “pioneering this research work led by some of our nation’s leading public health researchers at NIMR exemplifies the potential of health innovation in Nigeria when effectively supported and enabled. “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 in 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 national government’s efforts to properly equip public health facilities and front-line personnel.
“Till date, the investments fund have supported other public health institutions including the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the National Ortheopeadic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos” he added.
Also speaking, Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Prof. Babatunde Salako said “the impact of this innovation is a fast and sensitive point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2 using molecular technique. Its 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 32 tests result in one hour.”
He also noted that with relevant support, the test kit reagents can be produced in country with 80-90 per cent locally sourced materials.