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New COVID-19 rapid tests a game changer for Africa

02, December 2020
The roll-out of new, World Health Organization (WHO) approved antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus in Africa will significantly boost testing capacity and marks a game changer in the continent’s fight against COVID-19. Many African countries have struggled to test in sufficient numbers to control the pandemic, with only 12 in the region reaching a key threshold of 10 tests per 10 000 people per week during the past month. They have also often fallen short when compared to other countries of a similar size in a different region. For example, Senegal has significantly boosted its testing capacity but is testing 14 times less than the Netherlands. Nigeria is testing 11 times less than Brazil. “The widespread use of high-quality rapid testing in Africa can revolutionize the continent’s response to COVID-19,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The new, antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests will help meet the huge testing needs in Africa.”

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