Health and biotech company 54Gene has raised $500,000 for a fund aimed at improving testing for the COVID-19 in Nigeria. 54Gene opened the fund with a donation of $150,000 and within 24 hours, it secured an additional $350,000 from partners including Union Bank.
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The fund raised is intended to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity in Nigeria by up to 1,000 additional tests a day. The genomics research company plans to achieve this by buying testing instruments and the required biosafety materials such as biosafety cabinets and personal protective equipment needed for the safety of frontline healthcare workers.
“With the Nigeria COVID-19 Testing Fund, we are working in sync with the NCDC to make Nigeria’s public health an absolute priority during this global pandemic, which has left thousands dead or fighting for their lives,”
Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO 54gene said in a statement.
“We are extremely ambitious in our mission to expand the testing capacity for Nigeria and expect to increase the present rate by at least 10X in the coming weeks. In order to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is essential for us to know who has the disease, so we can put in place effective measures around quarantining confirmed cases.”
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According to him, the rapid response of 54Gene’s partners is a clear indication of their understanding of the need for immediate collaborative efforts to fight COVID-19 and protect the nation’s populace. The partners are also in talks with other Nigeria institutions in order to aid 54Gene in its goal to accelerate and expand to up to 5,000 tests per day. Furthermore, the team is calling on COVID-19 workforce trained in QCPR instruments and other molecular diagnostics methods, as it hopes to channel the funds raised in recruiting these people.
“This is the kind of support we need. Identify a problem, run with it and include a sustainability plan in your solution. We are very grateful for this new partnership with 54gene at a critical point in our health security,”Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of NCDC
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