Rwanda Readies for COVID-19 Self-Testing

Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana

Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) has announced plans to authorize a COVID-19 self-test detection methodology that will enable citizens to know their personal health status at a time when the SARS COV-2 virus is taking different forms.

The one minute-scale detection of SARS-CoV-2 will be using a low-cost biosensor composed of pencil graphite electrodes and expected to come cheap following government plans to subsidize current costs of COVID-19 tests.

RBC Director General, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana said this morning that their laboratories are validating self-tests to make them available as “soon” as possible.

Nsanzimana said SARS COV-2 diagnosis is changing rapidly from long hours per day of Q-RT PCR (Real-Time Quantitative Reverse Transcription) to turn around time to Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) which takes minutes.

“I believe self-testing is going to make it even easier, faster and cheaper. RBC lab is validating a number of these tests soon to be made available,” Nsanzimana said on Twitter

Health experts say self-testing is being conducted in Europe using the cheapest nasal swap strips which can be purchased for around Rwf895 and hopefully the two other test options – especially the lollipop method for children and the elderly can also be made available.

Authorizing self-testing under the sky-rocking figures of cases of COVID-19 variants is expected to boost the government plan to ease access to testing services which have been mainly centralized to hospitals and major clinics.

A healthcare worker tests a person. Self-test means are being planned.

Last month Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) announced plans to reduce the costs of taking a COVID-19 test as part of means to increase numbers of tests conducted countrywide.

Currently a citizen is required to pay Rwf10, 000 for COVID-19 rapid test at any of the designated COVID testing sites including public and private hospitals.

Though the government has been conducting random public tests especially on motorists, citizens who intend to attend meetings and travel are required to take one of the tests depending on the standing conditions.

Some of them have however raised concerns of inability to raise the required amount especially at a time when the pandemic has also taken a toll on the economy and financial capacities of many Rwandans.




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