Nigeria and 6 other African countries will start conducting coronavirus antibodies tests as early as next week, as part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent.
Apart from Nigeria, the other African countries that will benefit from this include Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and Morocco.
While making the disclosure in Addis Ababa, the head of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said that these countries are the first set of countries to commit to it.
Western countries have been using antibody tests to discover how many of their citizens have been infected by the coronavirus disease, with the expectation that will help them reopen their economies.
This new development is coming some days after the Nigerian Government started negotiations with prospective COVID-19 vaccine distributors to the country ahead of their availability.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who kick-started the negotiation on behalf of the Federal Government, in a virtual meeting with representatives of the vaccine candidate, told the co-discussants that Nigeria must be given priority when COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution.
Nkengasong said that Africa has so far conducted 9.4 million coronavirus tests, a 10% increase over last week. These tests show whether people currently have the coronavirus disease.
Experts said that the low levels of testing in many countries mean that Africa’s infection rates could be higher than being reported.
He said that 25 African countries still have full border closures, with 23 imposing tests at entry points. He also stressed on the need to harmonize border testing and recognize certificates in order to facilitate travel.