Two students from St Thomas Girls Secondary School in Kilifi County have developed a rapid COVID-10 test kit.
The Rapid Covix- Breathalyzer uses a glass slide to trap the breath of a patient. The breath is then analysed by inbuilt microscopes and the results are transmitted directly and read by an app on a mobile phone or a computer.
A concept note indicates that the testing kit is an advanced unit with a fluorescent microscope that has biomarker sensors to detect infections — bacterial and viral — in this case from influenza and corona family.
The students – Swabrina Chepkemoi and Marrieta Halima – told the Nation that the test kit was used on mice and yielded positive results.
The mice were infected with the influenza virus and breath tests were carried after 24 hours.
“This technology is cheap and less invasive compared to other methods of testing. As the infection progresses, the levels of VOC released in the breath can change hence this device too can be used to monitor the progress of the disease over time,” said the students who were the winners of 2021 YSK National Science and Technology Exhibitions.
The learners told the publication that they developed the COVID-19 test kit to reduce congestion in hospitals after they realised that Kenya didn’t have enough testing kits.
“When we got an opportunity to participate in the exhibition, we took up the challenge to address a key issue that many developing countries have faced since the outbreak of Covid-19 — lack of sufficient test kits,” Swabrina said.
“This informed our decision to come up with the Rapid Covix-Breathalyzer testing kit. Beyond winning, we look forward to progressing our project and seeing it positively impact society.”
Speaking about the innovation, Dr George Njoroge, a former director of medicinal chemistry at Merck and Eli Lilly pharmaceutical companies in the USA, said: “The rapid Covix – Breathalyzer Testing Kit provides an easy way of detecting the presence of a variety of microbes such as viruses and bacteria. The assay is easy to run and results have been confirmed by a secondary mass spectrometry assay.”
“Future work to establish differentiation of the VOC MIX from different microbes would greatly enhance the utility of their methodology. These girls from St Thomas High are definitely heading in the right direction,” Dr Njoroge added.