Blade Nzimade welcomes Sahpra approval of locally produced Covid-19 rapid-test kits

17 August 2021 - 08:00 By cebelihle bhengu
Higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande. File photo.
Higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande. File photo.
Image: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande has welcomed the SA Health Product Regulatory Authority's (Sahpra) approval for Covid-19 rapid-test kits to be produced locally. 

On Monday the minister said the production of these tests by biotechnology company CapeBio and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will reduce SA's and the continent's reliance on imports from other countries, and curb the further spread of Covid-19 which is driven by the dominant and highly infectious Delta variant.

Nzimande added this will also speed up the country's response to the pandemic by identifying and responding to cluster areas timeously. 

“This latest development is part of a concerted effort by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and its partners to build local capabilities to respond to viruses like Covid-19.

“Ensuring that diagnostics, vaccines, and so on are locally manufactured means that SA need not depend on imports of life-saving products. This is crucial, as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how difficult it is for the developing world to compete with richer nations for access to such products,” said the minister.

CapeBio will, at full operational capacity, produce up to 5,000 kits a day, with each kit providing 1,000 tests, according to company CEO Daniel Ndima. 

Earlier this year DSI, the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), a DSI entity, made seven funding awards to local companies to ramp up the country's ability to produce  reagents and test kits for Covid-19.