The Africa Union Commission has released a new ‘Guidance on the Use of Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19 Response’ to rapidly increase antigen testing in the continent.
The guidance was released through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and partners.
Along with the Quality Assurance Framework for SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Testing for Diagnosis of Covid-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid diagnostic test training materials, specialists expect that the document will help to expand testing capacity across Africa rapidly.
With an increase in Covid-19 cases, the commission urged the member states to concentrate on rolling out of the antigen testing to increase national Covid-19 testing capacity and better handle the pandemic to achieve test positivity rates of below 5%.
Africa CDC Director Dr John Nkengasong said: “We have made significant progress in Africa in terms of testing, but we must acknowledge that we are not there yet.
“The antigen test is a game-changer that member states should adopt to boost the capacity of countries to rapidly scale up and increase testing with a quicker turnaround time for obtaining test results.”
Antigen tests are affordable, easy to use and deliver results within 15 minutes at the point-of-care.
In September, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended using rapid antigen diagnostic tests as countries are facing challenges in scaling up testing using the nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT).
The new strategy is part of the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT), which the Africa Union Commission rolled out in June to boost testing, tracing, and treatment capacity for Covid-19 response across Africa.
The PACT has been working to supply 11 million rapid antigen tests in Africa.