South African companies develop a way forward in SA’s fight against Covid-19

Cape Town-based medical manufacturer, Medical Diagnostech, has produced Africa’s first Covid-19 antigen testing kit. Medical Diagnostech develops and manufactures high quality rapid diagnostic testing kits.

The testing kit, approved by the South African Health Regulatory Authority (SAPHRA) on Wednesday, took 18 months to develop. This is a first of its kind from Africa, with most testing kits manufactured in Canada, India or the United States, among other countries. The rapid antigen test is in the form of a nasal swab and costs between R30-R35, or $3, and can provide a testee with results in 15 minutes.

Alongside the another Cape Town-based biotechnology company, BioVac (that “was appointed to manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for distribution within the African Union”), Medical Diagnostech and CapeBio are aiding not only South Africa, but also Africa’s fight against Covid-19. Courtesy: Unsplash.

Additionally, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has authorised the manufacturing of the Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits by another South African company, CapeBio. The Centurion-based biotechnology company manufactures “molecular biology research and diagnostic reagents, enzymes and kits”, according to the company’s website.

The PCR test kits, co-developed by the Council for Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR), will help reduce South Africa’s reliance on imports and is vital in the fight against Covid-19 in the country.

“Ensuring that diagnostics, vaccines, etc. are locally manufactured means that South Africa need not depend on foreign imports of life-saving products. This is crucial, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how difficult it is for the developing world to compete with richer nations for access to such products,” said the Minister.

Done By: Caitlin Maledo


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