COVID-19 ECHO Session #37: African Experience on Expanding COVID-19 Testing

March 15, 2021

On 2 March 2021 this COVID-19 ECHO session was convened to discuss the African experience in expanding COVID-19 testing using Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Tests (Ag RDT). It has been over one year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO. There is still much concern that COVID-19 infections are increasing in some countries after several weeks of flat reporting. The virus has shown a tendency to rebound if urgency to test, isolate, and practice all the COVID-19 protocols is lost. Data has shown that 30% of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, but have high viral load (VL) and continue to transmit the infection. To break the chain of transmission there is a need to test and isolate. In this session, Renuka Gadde, a senior advisor at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) moderates and leads the discussion. Professor Wendy Stevens, Head of the Department of Molecular Medicine and Hematology at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Head of the National Priority Program Unit at the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) in South Africa, discusses the work she has done in the evaluation of rapid diagnostic kits and the role out of technological devices in South Africa and Zambia. She shares the experience of the use of Ag RDTs at ports of entry and in mobile testing centers as South Africa moves towards self-sampling and self-testing. Dr Leon Mutesa, Director for the Centre of Human Genetics College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Rwanda shares the Rwandan experience in rapid diagnostic testing at airports, schools markets, and hospitals including private clinics, which has greatly reduced the turn-around time for decision making. Dr Anthony Ahumibe, Senior Laboratory Technical Advisor at Nigeria Centre for Disease and Control (NCDC) shares the Nigerian experience where they used Ag RDTs to test youth at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in order to help the safe re-opening of the camps for the youth and other services offered by the NYSC. Please follow the links posted here to view the recorded video session on ASLM’s YouTube channel, and download the presentations made during the session.