Mt Kenya University has tested a rapid Covid 19 diagnostic kit in the field and says it meets Ministry of Health specifications while giving results within 15 minutes.
In collaboration with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and others, the study says the results could guide Kenya in large-scale use of rapid antigen tests.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health allowed the use of rapid Covid 19 (antigen) tests, in December but so far are only used in limited and controlled environments.
The new study posted on medRxiv platform on Saturday (June 6, 2021) is the first field-testing of a Covid antigen19 kit in Kenya. It is also the first to be carried out by a private or any other university in the country.
The testing carried out between January and March this year, had involved 272 participants. These, the report says included travelers, university students, healthcare workers, patients , and members of the general population.
“Healthcare workers and patients were enrolled at Mary Help Hospital in Thika, while students and general population were enrolled at Mount Kenya University in Thika, Kenya.”
The study also involving Prof Matilu Mwau, a deputy director at Kemri, says the rapid kit if adopted could bridge the current shortages of PCR tests.
The team had evaluated the BD Veritor rapid antigen test, developed by Becton, Dickinson and Company of the US. The product has been approved for emergency use by the US FDA, in Canada, and several other countries.
“Our study, nested in real-world use-case scenarios in Kenya, demonstrated a sensitivity and specificity of 94 per cent and 98 per cent, respectively,” says the new study led by Eva Muthamia and Samuel Mungai of Mt Kenya University.
The World Health Organization and Kenya’s Ministry of Health recommends a minimum of 80 per cent and 97 per cent sensitivity and specificity respectively.
While delivering fast results, are cheaper, and requiring lessconsumables and skills, antigen tests may be less accurate compared PCR tests.
By Gatonye Gathura