Connect with us


Rapid coronavirus testing: A game-changer? | Health



Editor’s Note: This series is produced in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Millions of people around the world are being tested for the new coronavirus every day.

There are two main types of testing methods for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease: molecular testing, which detects the presence of the virus itself; and antibody tests, which look for past presence of the virus and a possible immune response to the infection.

To test for the virus itself, the most commonly used method involves a nasal or throat swab. The official name for this is the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). It is a standard molecular testing technique that detects the genetic material of the virus in a respiratory sample obtained through the swab.

Getting results can take somewhere between 30 minutes and four hours.

Meanwhile, to test for antibodies, a serology test is used. This tests blood samples obtained from a finger prick. If the diagnosis is positive for antibodies, it shows that a person had been infected with the virus and has developed an immune response.

Antibodies are detectable in the blood usually about two weeks after an infection of COVID-19.

Using standard testing methods, both types of tests (molecular amplification, and serology) require technical expertise and some sophisticated equipment.

What is rapid testing?

Trained technicians are not widely available to conduct PCR tests, which means there are often insufficient numbers of people managing a large number of samples from patients. 

Now, many companies are working to simplify and speed up the diagnostic process for detecting COVID-19 and other infections. Some are developing automated PCR machines that reduce the burden on technicians for whom the meticulous process of dealing with samples is time-intensive, while others are making easy-to-use paper tests to facilitate testing outside of laboratory settings. These are called rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs).

Earlier this month, scientists in Australia said they had devised a portable low-cost nasal swab molecular test that can diagnose COVID-19 in just 20 minutes.

“When people say ‘rapid diagnostic test’ they are usually talking about those that can be performed at or near the patient’s bedside, like the common pregnancy tests, and that can be simple enough to be run by a healthcare worker and [the] results determined visually, even by the patient in some cases,” Dr Mark Perkins, team lead for laboratories at the WHO, told Al Jazeera.

Antigen detection tests

Enter the antigen test for COVID-19.

Antigens are molecules that stimulate an immune response. Antibodies are proteins produced in response to exposure to antigens.

These new rapid tests use a hand-held device to detect the presence of proteins from the virus in respiratory samples.

This testing technique is cheaper and faster than most PCR tests, giving a result within 30 minutes.

How does it work? A sample of bodily fluid is collected using a swab, and applied with a liquid onto a strip of special paper. The liquid travels along the paper, carrying the antigens with it. If a person is infected, bound antibodies on the paper capture any antigens and indicator dyes show the user where those were captured.

In May, the United States Food and Drug Administration authorised the emergency use of its first antigen test for COVID-19.

A healthcare worker writes the date on a rapid antigen detection testing kit after collecting swabs from residents during a check-up campaign to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in Ahmedabad, India [File: Amit Dave /Reuters]

Several states in India have ramped up mass testing with the introduction of rapid antigen test kits.

Perkins said these could potentially be a “game-changer”, facilitating early and easy detection of the virus, especially in developing countries.

“If you live in a small town in a developing country, the chance there’s going to be a PCR machine in your town is small, so this is why there is a push to develop other methods that are simpler and require less complicated machinery,” he said.

But are they reliable?

Researchers at the WHO are continuing to evaluate these antigen detection tests for accuracy.


Perkins said his team has seen good data on at least four of the dozens of antigen detection tests being developed. 

“These antigen detection tests are recently developed and haven’t been tested widely, but so far they all tend to have relatively high specificity – that is 98 to 99 percent of the people who are tested positive actually have the infection and only one or two percent of them are falsely positive,” Perkins said.

“The real challenge is to ensure they are sensitive enough to detect essentially all infectious patients,” he added. 

However, there are limitations to the innovation and the WHO has urged further validation before such tools can be recommended.

The United Nations health agency said: “Inadequate tests may miss patients with active infection or falsely categorise patients as having the disease when they do not, further hampering disease control efforts.”

Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz

Source –


Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

Continue Reading


2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

Source –

Continue Reading


Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

Source –

Continue Reading