Health Ministry Urges Public Caution as Unapproved COVID-19 Test Kits Flood Market

June 18, 2020

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has raised concerns over the influx of substandard COVID-19 testing kits in the Kenyan market.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman Wednesday warned Kenyans that only one coronavirus test kit has been approved by the Ministry and that is the real-time PCR test.

“We have noticed for instance that several testing kits that purport to diagnose Covid-19 have permeated our market. I think this is a matter that needs to be addressed and I want to say a few words about this.

“First the standard test that the ministry uses as a diagnosis of Covid-19 is the real-time PCR test which is based on the detection of nucleic acid of the virus. It is the only test that definitely identifies the presence of coronavirus in those that turn out positive,” Dr Aman said.

The Health official further cautioned that other tests that have been developed are not sufficiently sensitive and are based on detection of antibodies.

“Antibody Rapid Diagnostic Test or RDTs are based on detection of antibodies that a person may have raised as an immune response to exposure to the virus. They do tell something when they work but it does not tell you whether the virus is active and present within that individual,” Dr Aman explained.

He said these tests are usually 15 minutes long and somewhat similar to malaria tests where blood is drawn from a fingertip and put on a cassette.

“So these tests cannot be used for Coronavirus diagnosis for now. These tests have only been authorized for use for purposes of surveillance so that we get an idea of exposure to coronavirus.”

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