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Biotech Startup Rolls Out Mobile Lab to Boost COVID-19 Testing in Nigeria

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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Biotech company 54Gene has increased Nigeria’s laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19 with a mobile laboratory in Ogun, a state in the South-West of the country.

In addition to its DNA biobank lab in Lagos, the number of molecular laboratories in the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)’s network of coronavirus test centres rises to 17 as of today, reports Tech Cabal.

54Gene, a relatively new and private company, has taken an active role in the expansion of coronavirus testing in Nigeria. In March, the biotech startup launched a fund aimed at increasing the country’s ability to test for the disease – a total of $500,000 was raised.

The mobile lab itself is a 12-meter tall container structure. It is designed as a plug and play feature that minimises the logistical challenges involved in shipping samples to another location for processing.

Sourced from Tech Cabal

It is believed that the time and costs that will be saved with the prefabricated nature of the lab will, in turn, be channelled into more pressing infrastructural needs. Attention can instead be paid to ensuring the availability of test equipment and protective gear for healthcare workers.

Partnering with 54Gene on the mobile lab are financial institution First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Argentil Capital Partners, a Nigerian-based energy and infrastructure advisory firm.

The facility will be powered by a 10kVA solar power solution provided by partner Arnergy, a Nigerian renewable energy company.

COVID Testing in Nigeria

The relatively slow pace of testing in Nigeria has seen much criticism. The Nigerian health authorities have begun taking steps to scale up over the past month. As of March 30 when Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun states went into a federally mandated lockdown, there were only 6 accredited laboratories for testing.

In the time since, other facilities have been added in states outside Lagos, the epicentre, including northern Nigerian states like Kano where reports of strange deaths have caused widespread concern.

54Gene is planning to roll out a mobile testing lab in Kano soon.

Edited by Luis Monzon

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