The Federal Government has approved two Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDTs) kits manufactured by SD Biosensor and Abbott for COVID-19 testing.

It explained that while RDTs provide a faster turnaround time compared to the molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, there are limitations with its test.

It noted that the RDTs, which will be deployed in congregate settings – schools, hospitals, NYSC camps, Military camps, prisons, etc, has a lower sensitivity compared to PCR tests and can present false negative results in people who have been infected with the virus.

To curb this, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC’s) new guideline for RDTs deployment in the country has algorithms to ensure that cases are not missed.

NCDC explained these in a statement in Abuja.

It said: “This new guidance published by NCDC, is to guide the use of RDTs in Nigeria. We are recommending its use, primarily in congregate settings.

‘’These include settings such as schools, hospitals for the testing of patients with symptoms of COVID-19 presenting in hospital triage areas and periodic testing of health care workers, as well as prisons etc.

“While RDTs provide a faster turnaround time compared to the molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, there are limitations with this test. For example, the currently available Ag-RDTs have a lower sensitivity compared to PCR tests.

‘’The test can therefore present false negative results in people who have been infected with the virus. This is why the molecular PCR method remains the gold standard for testing. An algorithm has been included in the guidance to ensure that cases such as this are not missed.

“The NCDC is introducing the use of these rapid antigen tests, to contribute to Nigeria’s overall COVID-19 testing capacity. The Ag-RDTs provide significant advantages over other available testing methods, especially in terms of shorter turnaround times and reduced costs.

‘’The correct use of Ag-RDTs will also enable the Government of Nigeria to increase the pace of testing, tracing and providing care for people with COVID-19.’’

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