Uganda will soon start doing antibody tests for Corona Virus Disease (COVID -19), the Ministry of Health has announced.
The Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said they had already notified the World Health Organization (WHO) and they will soon be sending in reagents.
The antibody test is very effective because it can detect the virus even in mild infection where the virus can be easily missed and mistaken for the common cold by the widely used Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) being used currently to detect the germ in the nose or throat swabs.
With the yet to be introduced test, a person’s blood is checked for the virus antibodies in both positive cases that are showing signs and those that have suffered from the disease in the past, Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director Uganda Virus Research Institute says the old PCR DNA test is not new but were only using new primers specific to Coronavirus.
The PCR test he says takes four to six hours to get results and was recently adopted after stopping the Chinese method which they used while testing the initial suspected cases that later tested negative.
The World Health Organization Uganda Representative Dr Tegnen Woldermariam says that the kind of test a country resorts to do depend on their resources, a reason why Uganda will not embark on mass tests even as countries like South Korea are doing it.
Regarding testing centres for rural areas, Aceng says they are awaiting a recommendation by WHO on whether they can use rapid test kits.
However, currently, UVRI is the only laboratory doing tests for COVID-19 but Kaleebu says members of the public who develop flu and fever-like symptoms should not self-refer themselves to the laboratory.