• Easy does it

    Easy does it

    Scientists at Uganda’s oldest public university have developed a rapid antibody test to help in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 on the continent.

    According to Reuters, researchers at the pathology department at Makerere University believe that the test, which involves a simple finger prick to draw blood, is suitable for village settings in rural areas where there is no electricity and few healthcare services.

    ‘We’ve had a history of developing rapid tests for infectious diseases. So when COVID came we were like, “Okay, we have the skills, why don’t we do this?”,’ says researcher Misaki Wayengera, who also helped invent a rapid test for Ebola.

    Wayengara explains that the kit, approved by Uganda’s National Drugs Authority, works by detecting two antibodies – immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G – which are produced in the presence of the coronavirus.

    The project, which was partially funded by the French embassy, has seen the production of an initial 2 400 kits in partnership with a local WHO-certified manufacturer. However, the researchers are negotiating with bigger investors to scale up to commercial production.

    23 March 2021
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images