South Africa’s local biotechnology company CapeBio has been authorised by the country’s Health Products Regulatory Authority to manufacture rapid COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits.
This 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, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Blade Nzimande said.
“Giving 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,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande noted that as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to drive South Africa’s third wave of COVID-19 infections, testing has become increasingly important.
“The more testing is done, the easier it is for a country to track the virus, identify clusters, and act accordingly. This latest development is part of a concerted effort by the department and its partners to build local capabilities to respond to viruses like COVID-19,” he said.
CapeBio CEO, Daniel Ndima announced that the first batches of test kits will be available for local market uptake before the end of August 2021.
Ndima said the company will be able to produce up to 5,000 kits a day, with each kit providing for 1,000 tests at full operational capacity.
“This will enable us to supply the local market sufficiently and effectively, confirming CapeBio’s capability to develop health-related tools to assist the government in democratising COVID-19 testing,” Ndima said.