Article by: Dumisane Dube
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has authorised local biotechnology company CapeBio to manufacture rapid COVID19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits.
According to the Minister the COVID-19 test kits, co-developed by CapeBio and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), will help to reduce South Africa’s reliance on imports, making it easier for the country and the rest of the continent to gain speedy access to test kits.
“Given Africa’s dependence on imports, the government, through the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), led an initiative to respond to the local and continental demand for testing by setting up a fund to develop diagnostic tools, among other resources,” said Minister Nzimande.
Minister Nzimande further said that as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to drive South Africa’s third wave of COVID-19 infections, testing has become increasingly important.
“This latest development is part of a concerted effort by the DSI and its partners to build local capabilities to respond to viruses like COVID-19. 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,” added Nzimande.
Daniel Ndima, CEO of CapeBio, said the company and its partners at the CSIR were delighted that the COVID-19 test kits had been approved by the regulators.
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